Chapter 10: Understanding Adultery
“You shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14, NAS).”
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them…but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man 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.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:18-25)
Old Testament Adultery:
“but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Matthew 5:22, NAS).”
Definition of Adultery: being unfaithful to covenant vows in any capacity; spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and even financially – covenant betrayal
One of the treacheries against God we see so much in the Old Testament is adultery, otherwise noted as prostitution. For obvious reasons, adultery here is not sexual as we think of it in the natural – it is the total package of covenant betrayal. Many throw out Matthew 5:22 to people concerning divorce by stating that the only legal ground for divorce is adultery, yet we foolishly automatically think of adultery exclusively as sexual, much like we misuse intercourse assuming it’s exclusively sexual in nature. This is where great confusion enters.
Adultery comes in many, many forms. It is, in short, being unfaithful to the covenant vows of marriage; sexual misconduct is adultery, no doubt, but so are many other forms. We should not limit the broad spectrum of its definition lest we leave people in confusion and condemnation. We, God’s people, are His bride. In Jeremiah 3:9, God referred to His people as committing “whoredom…defiled…with stones and stocks.” Where do we read about sexual misconduct? We do not.
In wedding vows, however worded, the promise between the groom and the bride are to be faithful always, loving always, committed fully one to the other as long as they both shall live, and forsaking all others. However you slice it, to break these vows in any capacity (sexually, mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually), adultery has been committed. E.g. when a person places more value on their career, friends, hobbies, children, or anyone or anything else, adultery has been committed. To be present in the marriage physically without another person involved, yet one has pulled away mentally or emotionally leaving the spouse lonely and abandoned is adultery, make no mistake.
Biblical Scope of Adultery:
To understand the full spectrum of “adultery,” we must realize that when any of the covenant vows are forsaken, adultery is in full-force. This is why so many struggle with attempting to stay in a loveless, comfortless, honor-less, and lonely marriage. Most Christians are told, “If the act of adultery (translated exclusively as sexual misconduct) has not taken place, you have no grounds for divorce.” How many people forsake their bride or groom for their work, friends, family, hobbies, etc.? To reiterate, the vows say, “Forsaking all others, being faithful only to her or him so long as you both shall live.” Adultery has clearly transpired when any of these vows are broken.
I read an article by Robert Walters entitled, The Biblical Definition and a Biblical Conclusion. Here is a portion of that article that is well worth reading:
The Bible is not a dictionary, thus we should not expect it to define a word in the same manner as would a dictionary. The Bible is the word of God composed of various books and letters. In defining adultery, we must study and compare various passages of Scripture. This is the only way to ensure an accurate, scriptural definition.
As is often the case, a word may have more than one definition. Some, for example, would say that adultery is nothing more than “the act of sex a married person has with the spouse of another.” To believe this, one would have to be ignorant of or deliberately ignore a number of Scriptures that contradict such a definition. The Scriptures reveal that adultery is used to describe different actions committed by an individual or group. But the result is always an action contrary and detrimental to the covenant known as marriage. The narrow definition of the word that some espouse is merely effort to defend traditional error.
In defining adultery, consider the following Scriptures: “And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks (Jeremiah 3:9, KJV).” This passage tells us that “she” (God’s people) committed adultery with stones and stocks. These things were party to the sin. When we understand the sin, we will understand adultery as it relates to the present marriage, divorce, and remarriage controversy.
A covenant was made between the nation of Israel and God. Israel agreed to abide by the terms of the covenant and God promised to bless them. The stones and stocks were the objects to which God’s wife—Israel—gave its affections. The foreign object that adulterated the relationship served to replace God. God divorced Israel and the relationship he had with them ceased to exist. No sex involved, yet adultery was committed! Therefore, if anyone tells you that “adultery is nothing but a sex act,” you may want to refer him or her to the Scripture noted above.
Some, in an attempt to defend the traditional definition, may argue that adultery in the passage under study is spiritual adultery. But the sin in view here is marital adultery (Jeremiah 3:14), a sin that was an act of unfaithfulness to the marital vows, even though sex was not involved. Today, a person can commit adultery against their spouse in exactly the same way without sex being involved. Virtually all admit that adultery is committed by “putting away” and remarrying (Matthew 19:9). Even those who are not capable of having sex are able to commit adultery in various ways, namely by simply being unfaithful to their spouse—acting as if the marriage does not exist and taking up with another.
“And he saith unto them, whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her (Mark 10:11, KJV).” This Scripture does not agree with the traditional definition of adultery. Jesus says that adultery is committed against the previous spouse rather than with the second woman he marries! We are compelled, therefore, to reject the traditional definition in favor of the biblical definition. This Scripture makes it clear that adultery includes the idea of the breaking of a covenant. But do not confuse the word “breaking” with the word “destruction.” One may break the terms of a covenant; yet, if repentance and forgiveness follow, the covenant remains intact. A marriage is ended, destroyed, over, when one or both parties have legally declared the marriage to be over. The Jewish Law, and the law of our land, requires a “bill of divorcement” or divorce certificate. When one who is divorced, and therefore “unmarried,” is unable to resist sexual temptations, he may marry another (1 Corinthians 7:8, 9). (end excerpt)
Is a Remarried Divorced Woman an Adulterer Forever?
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16, NAS).”
Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law…but sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin (Romans 7).
First, I notated II Timothy 3:16 simply to remind us of the general purpose for the Word. Secondly, in the very long text of Romans 7 above (none of which could be overlooked), we see that, by law, if a woman is divorced and the husband lives, the woman is considered an adulterer should she remarry. Countless women have struggled with this passage stating that, according to this passage, any woman who is legally divorced and remarried is an adulterer forever lest her ex-husband die— only then she is freed from the law. This seems cut and dry enough, but only if we read these texts absent from the remaining texts. Fortunately for us all, Paul did not stop with the first few verses!
This is where the importance of understanding covenant with God, as written in chapter two, comes in. As the Word plainly directs, we see that the only way to enter into true covenant and to be freed from the law is exclusively through death. The above reference begins with physical death of the ex-husband as the only solution to the adulterous woman’s freedom, but then Paul transitions quickly into the spiritual diverting away from that which is physical.
Keep in mind that the Old Testament (Old Covenant) is physical, whereas the New Testament (New Covenant) is spiritual. What transpired back then (pre-Christ) did so physically, but what transpires today (post-resurrection) is spiritual. To “die” as in “die to self” is a spiritual term and, in so “dying to self,” we are freed from the weight of the Law and we enter into the rest and relief of the Law through Christ’s fulfillment of the Law.
The Law reveals sin and sin kills man. Sin kills the man because no one can fulfill the Law. Paul immediately instructs that we are all to enter into death (spiritually speaking) so as to enter the Body of Christ. In so joining, death to the old Earthly man has to occur. When death takes place, our new life in Christ frees us from the law—all of it.
Bringing it full-circle, in reference to divorce and adultery, we see that, by law (earthly, old man), the divorced and remarried woman is an adulterer. However, Paul shifts attention to all sin—that all people are sinful—that the flesh (physical) of any man or woman is sinful. Once in Christ, divorced, single, or married, we are exempt from the law – the law that binds our human form to the condemnation of adultery of any kind; the adultery of breaking the Law of our holy God.
In other words, though the Law condemns everyone in their adulterous condition against God, once in Christ, we are no longer a slave to sin therefore we are no longer an adulterer. Too many people focus on the first section of “an adulterous woman” citing that no woman can remarry if her first husband lives lest she is a whore, yet Paul’s whole intent is not the physically adulterous woman but rather to point to understanding adultery against God and how to become free from all forms of adultery.
In doing so, he points to us all as sinful in need of death (spiritually) so as to partake of the new life offered by God through Christ. If you are in Christ, and if you are divorced legally, and if you are remarried legally, you are not an adulterous woman – you are free! Dying to self as notated in chapter two allows us to enter into the rest (peace) of Christ and, in turn, we are freed from the Law which keeps us all under condemnation. You are free!
Chapter 19: Problems and Resolutions
“For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness (Hebrews 5:1-2, NAS).”
I have narrowed it down to four main problematic areas within the body of Christ concerning love:
- Lacking love for God which would provide surrender
- Lacking love for self which would produce growth
- Lacking love for the brethren which would produce unity
- Lacking love for unbelievers which would produce transformation
The thing which stands out the most about Hebrews 5 is love. Where there are priests, they are for the sake of and help for the people. These appointed priests are to deal gently with those who don’t yet fully understand God’s Word. The priests, post-resurrection, are anyone who is hidden in Christ, not just those with a title. We, men and women of God, are a priest because the Priest lives within each of us.
As for problem #1, above all else, those who make a profession of faith fail to understand surrender, total submission to the King. Loving God is not merely hating Satan. Surrender can only come from total immersion into another being. We can’t truly submit ourselves to someone until we love them through and through. Falling in love with God eludes most. This is primarily due to insufficient teaching from the elders surrounding us. One generation after another, we become weakened in the area of loving God. As a result, each new generation wanes in their love and devotion to God. We first must comprehend we are to fear God. Through such fear, love blossoms. No fear, no love, no surrender.
Problems number 2 & 3 go hand in hand. If God’s people would become aware of the fact we are priests under the headship of the High Priest, Christ, then we would begin an entirely different journey. We would allow ourselves to yield spirit, soul and body to the One True God. That would spring forth being able to more readily love ourselves because we would know we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Once we recognize we are not to loathe ourselves, our appreciation for the life God has granted would allow room to love others as we love ourselves; not with a vain love, but a brotherly, unconditional love. With such love, unity would prosper.
Once we resolved issues 1-3, we would not be so short with the ignorant as so many of us are. We would not be quick to pass judgment on others who don’t comprehend things as do we. We would be far less prone to gossip about sister-grumpy-pants or brother-too-slow and much more apt to function in patience, kindness, longsuffering, and more. Once we achieve the first three hurdles, we will then be positioned so as to love the unbelievers who mock, scorn and hate people of God. In this, problem #4 is also resolved. We would witness more transformations from the world into the Kingdom of God.
To hate a fellow servant of God is to hate ourselves. We desperately need to fall in love with God so as to cease the self-loathing which will stem into falling in love with the Body of Christ and the human race at large. Love, not as the world views “falling in love” as it relates to sex, but rather a falling in love with mankind as God loves us.
Fitted and Held Together:
Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all…as a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Ephesians 4:1-6, 14-16).
How strong is your curtain rod of love? How deep is your Philadelphia? How earnestly are you in love with your fellow bondservant of the Most High? How far are you willing to “give whenever asked” as Christ directs? How forgiving, merciful, kind, magnanimous, gentle, benevolent, and selfless are you?
This is not for me to judge but to cause you to judge yourself. 1 Corinthians 11:31 says, “if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” I encourage you to judge yourself with righteous judgment, not with pride or self-abasement. Be honest, repent if necessary and go and sin no more. Be a cheerful giver; one who desires to be so driven by the supernatural love of God you can’t help but give.
Philadelphia will cause you to stop caring about being used by people. It will stir in you such a giving spirit you can’t be used, per se; you’ll be too busy giving freely. After all, if you’re giving your all, there’s no opportunity to be “used” by anyone. In the Kingdom of God, Philadelphia is a pre-requisite – it is not an option. May the Lord bless you with such profound love you will go out making disciples of many nations through the love of Yahweh.
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 #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 Fifteen: Strength for the Weary
I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up!
It is the enemy who tries to make you wallow in self-pity when you make a mistake. He wants you permanently derailed. God says that, if you get off track, get back on. If you sin, repent and stop sinning. If it was an honest mistake, repent and correct it. If it was blatant rebellion, do the same. God is not going to remove His Spirit from you because you missed a step unless you will not relent. So many find themselves in a frightful state thinking God will leave them abandoned. That too is a lie. His promise to the believer is, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” When doubt tries to enter, take the authority over your own mind and pull down those imaginations and strongholds which try to take you captive. Quote the Word to yourself; it will not return to Him void.
In chapter 5, verse 7 of Nehemiah, when Nehemiah set out to rebuild the city wall, he “consulted with himself”. David encouraged himself in the wilderness. At your weakest, most vulnerable condition, if you have no one to encourage you and remind you of the promises of God, remind yourself. Pick up the Word and start quoting Scripture until you believe it again or for the first time. Allow God’s Spirit and truth to comfort and encourage you in weakness no matter in what form it presents.
There is a Holy Bible full of examples of God’s anointed missing the mark a time or two. Adam missed it. So did David, Moses, Noah, Abraham, Elijah, all the disciples, and many more in between. Get up and dust yourself off! Bind away a spirit of fear, doubt, depression, unworthiness, and anything else not of Holy Spirit and move on with God. Take up the authority Jesus Christ gave you at the cross and command all evil spirits to leave. Take up the mind of Christ. Take up the armor of God and press forward. You have a Kingdom destiny which only you are called to fulfill. Don’t let weak flesh have a foothold. Abdicate the flesh and all soulish emotions that quench Holy Spirit. A tragic weakness is in not knowing the power God has given you, or worse, refusing to use it.
“Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:7-9, NAS).”
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity (fear), but of power, love and a sound mind (self-discipline) (II Timothy 1:7, NAS).”
Chapter Thirteen: Igniting God’s Completed Work, part II
Paul’s mission was to correct and teach every man with all wisdom that they may be presented as “complete in Christ”. What does this mean other than, once in Christ, we are considered as dead to self and alive only through the identity of Christ. The words, “He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death…” is not only in reference to Jesus’ death, but the co-death of all mankind. Through His flesh, He buried the fleshly nature of sinful man. Death for Jesus was literal but it translates to mankind as spiritual. We “die daily” as in, every day when we awaken in our natural state, we subject all of ourselves to Christ so that our only life source is the resurrected life of Christ.
Why are you, a born-again follower of Christ, praying for the attributes of Christ such as wisdom, patience, kindness, self-discipline, love, joy, etc. when God said He’s already given you the fullness of Christ? If you have Christ, you have all you need and which can be given because every good thing is wrapped in Christ. All of which we pray and ask that can be granted, through Jesus Christ, is already ours. We need only to know how to position ourselves so as to receive and function appropriately. In other words, if you are one with Christ, you need not pray, “God give me wisdom” but rather “As I humble myself before You, Lord, I thank You that, through Jesus, I have all wisdom. Direct me how to tap into and operate in it.”
Colossians 2:6, 9-12, state emphatically, “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him…for in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” Basically, we need to learn how to access what we’ve been given instead of trying to obtain something we have already been granted as though we don’t already possess it. The difference is accessing versus obtaining.
To reiterate, the Word of God, in Yahweh’s timeline, was written and fulfilled before the creation of anything in existence. Furthermore, your life, my life, and the lives of every person past, present and future are already finished; we’re merely watching it play out step by step. Faith of this magnitude (that it’s already completed) ignites God’s completed work and allows it to be made manifest in your life. This is the life which will draw all men unto Himself.
One may rebut, “So, if everything is complete, I can do anything I want and whatever will be, will be.” This person thinks they can live willy-nilly and everything will work out fine but, this is not so. The instruction of positioning ourselves so as to bring the perfect will of God in our lives is a matter of holiness. It is a matter of praying in agreement with God in all things, humbling ourselves before God and man, honoring the King in spirit, soul and body, worshiping in spirit and in truth, rest trusting His promises, and loving the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. This is positioning ourselves in order to usher the excellence of Christ, come what may.
“We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28, NAS).”
“He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death (Colossians 1:22, NAS).”
If there’s one “skill” I have honed having a chronically ill child, it’s patience. Patience, as many know, is one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit. My entire adult life, I’ve functioned in two speeds: fast and faster. I made quick decisions in everything; procrastination is not in my vocabulary. This can be an asset but, also a liability depending upon the situation. With a child who is perpetually ill, there is no such thing as “instantaneous”. There’s waiting on getting an appointment with specialists, waiting on meds to kick in, waiting on doctors to decide the next move, waiting in a lobby to be seen by doctors who are running behind (sometimes hours), and so on.
In this, I have learned (by force, in a manner of speaking) that patience is an invaluable asset in the Kingdom of God and, in turn, my life. Although, there are times when going fast can be good because we need to think on our feet, it can cause a stream of destruction by refusing to slow down long enough so as to properly evaluate the end result of our momentary actions. Patience comes from pause and pauses are very good. Pauses allow us to properly assess what is happening and what needs to occur next if, that is, we are wise enough to stop whining through the halt.
Impatience has proven itself deadly or, at the very least, tumultuous. Abraham birthed his own enemy through Ishmael. The prodigal son received his fortunes immediately but, then lost everything until he humbled himself. Judas received his fortune by selling out Jesus and his end was quite horrible. Eve’s impatience for more caused the death of mankind; on and on the stories go. The impatience of my youth caused me to marry a vile man; the repercussions took two decades to subside. On the flip side, Joseph, because of his intense patience, became ruler over all of Egypt, second only the Pharaoh. Patience, once Abraham surrendered to God’s timing, birthed many nations in his old age through Isaac.
My point is this: there is good in every obstacle if only we look to God. “There are no problems, only possibilities and opportunities”, I heard back in the 90’s from a wise man. I must admit, I initially thought the man was loony but, it began a new quest to look at things differently. Fast forward twenty-five or so years: I could easily murmur and complain about how difficult this all has been with Sophia or, I can choose to look to God so as to recognize good which has come about through the intense difficulties we have faced. Patience allows us or, rather, me, to see with Kingdom vision instead of the here-and-now.
I am forever changed for all this and I know, with great confidence, it will (in time) change Sophia for the better. There will be people with whom she can relate whereas someone else may not. This will cause her to be a game-changer in the lives of those who are otherwise hopeless and helpless. It will make her far more compassionate and relatable than someone who can only assume how they would feel or respond in a particular trial. Patience in allowing ourselves to endure something with grace and growth instead of attempting with futility to “get out of jail free quickly” develops endurance, perseverance and victory.
Watchman Nee (my favorite author and man of God) said (and I paraphrase) God’s people try too hard to pray themselves out of tribulation when, all the while, God is purposing to train us through it. Getting out to quickly actually hurts us because we soon will have to start over in another trial so we may eventually learn what we need. God’s will is not necessarily to experience “healing” (in whatever capacity) instantly because we will miss its purpose. In this thinking, my friend was correct: There are no problems, only opportunities and possibilities. Are you looking for your possibility and opportunity?
Chapter Thirteen: Igniting God’s Completed Work
Faith, faith, faith and more faith is the key to unlock the Kingdom of God and His power therein. When I read Hebrews 11 in its entirety, I stand amazed; first at God, and, secondly, at the people who withstood things most of us can’t fathom in their wildest nightmares. What these folks endured is nothing short of a miracle because they didn’t buckle, not even in the face of death. The chronicle of these mighty people of God reminds me of Matthew 10:28 which instructs, “do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
In this world and, more specifically, in the Church, people are far more concerned with what people think of them than being obedient to the Word of God (the expression of His power). Forget being concerned with being hung, beaten, burned or tortured in some capacity since we can’t get past being afraid of someone rejecting us. This is a sad fact but, looking around the churches, it’s evident. We are far more concerned with the opinion of our fellow man than following Christ outside the city walls no matter the repercussions.
How can we possibly walk an authentic life of faith if we can’t get past worrying about what someone thinks of us be it family, friends, co-workers, fellow church members, or whomever? This behavior does not and cannot please Yahweh. Having good intentions without faith cannot please Him; consequently, we squelch His power within us. When we are not walking in faith, God cannot materialize His completed work and then we’re left wondering, “Where’s God? Why isn’t He helping me? Where is His power now?” To quote my friend, Rachelle Freeman Sanders, “Faith doesn’t move God; faith is your positive response to what God has already done by grace. ‘Won’t He do it?’ you ask. No, He’s already done it!”
When you get to the place where you genuinely desire experiencing His power moving in your life, start with faith. This isn’t to insult where you are with Christ; it is simply a fact which applies to everyone. This is for me and this is for you. Faith is where Holy Spirit power ignition begins and ends and it usually comes prior to falling in love with Him. Faith is the vehicle which delivers into your life that which God has already accomplished before the foundation of the world (Hebrews 4:3). Everything past, present and future was perfected before the Earth was set in motion, we’re just watching it unfold over the centuries. How you operate in faith in the face of your most ferocious adversary will determine how far God can present and produce His completed work.
Faith is paramount to any Christ-follower. Faith is the ignition switch to God’s power and strength. The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Without faith, how can one have joy in Him? If we only have information about God with which we desire to share with others yet have no joy, where is the supernatural strength required to be displayed in everyday life so as to draw others to Christ?
We who desire earnestly to follow Christ must understand, all that is to be done is already accomplished. There is nothing more for Christ to do on your behalf. Money problems? Already solved. Children problems? Already resolved. Spousal problems? Already finished. Do you see? God sees the end from the beginning because, in God’s timing, the ending has already been fulfilled.
If this were inaccurate, how could God have spoken of Jesus in the Old Testament? How could the prophecies yet to come have been written? It’s because it’s already finished. Furthermore, how could Christ say in John 16:13, “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” The “what is to come” part reveals what already is but is yet to be. The truth is, according to the Spirit of God, all is already complete. We’re simply awaiting it’s unfolding.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval…and what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:1-2, 32-40, (NAS)
“and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2-3, NAS).”
Chapter Twelve: The Word of His Power and Strength of His Might
Right away, I must address the powerful few words of Hebrews 1:3: “He upholds all things by the word of His power.” Such an amazing testament to the Triune God! It doesn’t say, “the power of His word” no, it’s the word of His power. To express it another way, He is all-powerful, all power and, when He speaks, the words merely express His nature of power. In this, it isn’t words alone, it’s that His words are an extension of who He is. It’s His power that allowed Christ to purify sinful man through a willing crucifixion, and that which also permitted Him to sit at the right hand of the Majesty of high. Just awesome!
Now to Isaiah 50; what a powerful commentary from our Lord. He asks the question, “Why was there no man when I came…there was no one to answer? Or have I no power to deliver?” In between these words He asks, “Is My hand so short it cannot ransom?” It is imperative for God’s people to awaken to His majestic power whether He speaks or is silent. We must believe and know unwaveringly that, no matter how difficult our situations, He is all power and there is nowhere His righteous right hand cannot reach.
Then He continues, “…that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.” This is simply breathtaking. No one was there for Him when He came to them and I can only assume by reading the whole of chapter 50 that they had no confidence in His power, in who He is, or in what He is able to accomplish on their behalf. His holy people had sinned against Him due to lack of faith in His supreme power. He is 100% capable and willing to sustain the weary and able to do so with only one word of His power.
What will it require for His people to come out of the slavery of religion, tradition, and the world’s wicked system so as to comprehend His power and willingness to share that power with His holy people? God’s power to heal, sustain, refresh, and restore is without limit; it is we who limit His power because we do not believe in it or in Him. If we did, we would experience restoration and power prior to things being remedied. We believe, therefore we are supernaturally able to see before it manifests in the Earth and in our daily lives. There is no limit to His power.
Strength and might have nearly the same meaning, yet the Bible was compelled to say “the strength of His might” as if two separate entities. To me, it reiterates the infinite power of God. The repetition of ‘strength’ and ‘might’ reveal something so powerful it’s far beyond our natural comprehension. God is all power, all might, all strength; He is in all things, through all things, and all things were created by Him. That’s the strength of His might!
We have the ‘word of His power’ as well as the ‘strength of His might’. How incredible that our perfect, holy God would grant feeble, sinful mankind such unlimited power. When you read “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1)”, what does that mean to you personally? When He tells mankind, “I satisfy the weary one and refresh everyone who languishes (Jeremiah 31:25)”, how does that resonate with you?
Too many are quoting Scriptures but they don’t mean anything to them, not really. When they’re in a gale and the wind and rains of life hit so hard they can’t breathe, their true beliefs come front and center. When their child is dying of cancer and they can’t understand or even see God, or when they’re facing foreclosure on their home and have no idea where to take their family, or their marriage has crumbled unexpectedly, mere theology, church membership, and good deeds bear no weight; they have no eternal spiritual value because they are not rooted in relationship with God, who He is, knowing His promises are authentic, or that He is who He proclaims Himself to be.
Going through all we’ve endured these last many years caused moments of pause in me, I assure you. When we were being hit over, and over, and over again, there were flashes of, “Really? God, are You there? Is there a point to all the praying?” I am not ashamed to admit this because, in those moments, in the questioning, God proved Himself repeatedly. I can’t help but recognize God in every nuance. When we question with the desire to learn, He always responds. We need only pay attention.
Every single time, without fail, His strength and His might would overtake me one more time. When I was so physically weak, God would provide a way to accomplish whatever necessary. I was never alone, I was never without power, I was never without His might, joy, grace, love or mercy. God’s might and strength often come in the quietude of life, the softer more delicate moments. He isn’t always a sonic boom, but rather a hush that accommodates peace when all else is seemingly falling apart.
“He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power (Isaiah 40:29, NAS).”
“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3, NAS).”
“Why was there no man when I came? When I called, why was there none to answer? Is My hand so short that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver? Behold, I dry up the sea with My rebuke, I make the rivers a wilderness; their fish stink for lack of water and die of thirst. I clothe the heavens with blackness and make sackcloth their covering. The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word (Isaiah 50:2-4, NAS).”
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10, NAS).”
“…Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10, NAS).”
“The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places (Habakkuk 3:19, NAS).”
Chapter Ten: Spirit of Power, Love and a Sound Mind
The King James Version of II Timothy 1 uses the words “sound mind” (which I prefer believing it makes the message clearer) instead of “discipline”. That being said, a sound mind produces self-discipline so I believe the words to be interchangeable here. There are scads of texts referencing the mind so, we can logically deduce the mind is of great importance. When we are weak in body and heart, if we keep our minds sharp as to the person, promises and love of God, we won’t so readily lose our minds, as is so commonly stated as a natural reaction to weakness in times of trouble.
We must keep our minds clear because the world and all its woes will readily overtake us if we allow. We must be vigilant, watchful and sober-minded lest we fall prey to the one who despises us without measure. God has, with great liberty, given us a spirit of power and love and discipline. We are created in His image; thusly, we have His nature. We generally, unfortunately, choose the nature of the flesh over the nature of God. When we allow Holy Spirit to overwhelm us, we will have no room in us to be overwhelmed by the flesh.
To say, “I love the Lord” and think yourself close to God just because you prayed an unbiblical “sinner’s prayer”, you’re faithful to church, and do good deeds, is insufficient so as to sustain you in this world of muck and mire. We must know the Lord on the most intimate level if we can expect to be sustained through life’s trials and tribulations.
We are instructed in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” In other words, dwell on God, His Kingdom, His righteousness, His love, His power, His authority, His comfort, His promises, and whatever is of the Kingdom of God. There is no way, in the midst of chaos and confusion, any of us can set our minds on these things if we are not locked in to God 24/7/365. It’s difficult enough when you are, so you can understand the difficulty of being able to reroute your mind when you’re only a Sunday church-goer or Christian by title and not in daily action.
Life can be grueling, no doubt. I know, for me, even though I know God and His Word intimately, how challenging it can be to “speak that which is not as though it already was” as did God Himself in Romans 4:17. We are to speak God’s promises, not the circumstances. Inevitably, when I get worn down, sometimes the circumstances come right through my lips without even thinking. That’s the nature of the flesh at hand. I have to immediately pull down the words (remove them) and replace them by speaking God’s promises. As with Sophia, though it appears she’ll never be better (circumstance), I speak, “I thank God she’s already healed, in Jesus’ name. We will soon witness the physical manifestation of God’s promise of her healing.” If I didn’t walk and talk with God every moment of every day, I would not have His strength to overpower my fleshly weaknesses.
Throughout the challenges with having had toxic black mold in our home causing the auto-immune issues of which Sophia and I have had to contend, God has been faithful so as to speak directly to my spirit reassuring me we are both healed. Believe me, there were times all I could see was the pain and suffering but, regardless, because I hold fast to His promise, I can see the end from the beginning. No one can survive (much less thrive) in this wicked world with merely some theology and a lot of church activities. Survival and thriving through this rough terrain requires knowing God in such a way that no one and nothing can steal your faith. Having a mind set on the heavenly (whatsoever is good, pure, etc.) instead of that of the earthly (whatsoever is horrible, bleak, tainted, etc.) is a matter of life and death.
“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God (II Timothy 1:6-8, NAS).”