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Christ, Marriage, and the Law

Christ, Marriage, and the Law

We’re now in Romans, chapter 7. Paul has been talking about how Christ has set us free from the law, sin, and death. He’s now about to use a common example to illustrate what he’s been teaching.

Do you not know, brothers — for I am speaking to men who know the law — that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.

Romans 7:1-2

Here Paul is speaking to those who know the law. He explains that the law is lord over humans only as long as they’re alive.

Now, using marriage as an example, he explains this truth. The law binds a woman to her living husband. But, if her husband dies, she is loosed from that aspect of the law.

So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.

Romans 7:3

Obviously, if her husband lives, and there’s another man in her life, she’s an adulteress. If her husband is dead, then there’s no adultery. Paul is using the example of a married woman. So, what does that have to do with us?

So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.

Romans 7:4

The point is that we died to the law with Christ, so that we could be married to another. We now belong to Him who was raised from the dead – Jesus Christ. In Christ the old connections are gone.

Look at the wonderful results of this truth.

For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.

Galatians 2:19

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:11

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Galatians 6:14

What could be better than this? We are declared dead to the law, dead to sin, and dead to the world. According to verses 2 and 3 above in Romans, what does this mean? We now have no connection, no obligation, and the freedom to choose another way of life.

Think about this in the natural. What if a woman’s husband dies? She goes through the grieving process. But then, God brings her another love.

What if she remains devoted to her dead husband? Everyday she places flowers on his grave. She continues to talk to that dead husband as if he’s alive. She still sets a place for him at dinner table.

Is she free? No! Why not? It’s because of her own choice.

Many Christians are just like this. The old connections to the law, sin, and the world are broken in Christ, yet they act as if they were not.

What’s the answer to all of this? Paul will get into it as we continue on in this teaching. You won’t want to miss it.

Question: How is your relationship with Christ similar to a marriage?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2021 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Gaurding Your Heart

As we continue through Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, we see that he has been very transparent about himself and his ministry.  His desire is that those he’s writing to feel the same affection towards him.

We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.  We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us.  As a fair exchange — I speak as to my children — open wide your hearts also.
2 Corinthians 6:11-13

He’s telling them this because it’s very important to guard our hearts.  We have to be asking; who do we open our hearts to?  Sometimes we set ourselves up for problems and setbacks in this area.

Look at how Paul warns the church.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?  What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
2 Corinthians 6:14-15

Most of the teaching that I hear about this passage has to do with marriage.  They teach that a Christian should never marry a non-Christian.

While I believe that this is true.  There’s more to it than just the marriage issue.  It refers to any contractual partnership arrangement.  We have to be careful with how closely we attach ourselves to the world system.

Of course, we can have non-Christian friends.  How else will they see the Gospel message lived out?  That’s not a problem.

To understand this we need to look at the words Paul uses to describe this attachment.

The word, yoked, is a Greek word that actually means yoked differently.  It’s like yoking a bull and a horse together.  No work will get done.  They’re too different.

Also, you can’t yoke two animals together that are facing opposite directions.  I’ve seen the spiritual equivalent of this in a marriage.

There were two Christian individuals.  They were both at about the same level in their Christian walk.  They, unfortunately, didn’t do any pre-marital counseling.

If they had they would have discovered that even though they were at the same spiritual level, she was heading toward Christ while he was heading away from Him.  The marriage ended in divorce.

We have to be careful who we attach ourselves to, either in romantic relationships or business partnerships.  They can either drag us down or lift us up to our full potential.

In my next post, I’ll look at the other words in this passage that Paul uses to describe these relationships.  It’s important that we guard ourselves against this spiritual minefield.

Question: How have you seen this concept of unequal yoking played out?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2020 in Spiritual Walk

 

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The Dating Dilemma

With this post, I’ll be finishing our look at First Corinthians, chapter 7 – Paul’s view of romantic relationships.  He concludes by talking about singles.

If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants.  He is not sinning.  They should get married.  But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin — this man also does the right thing.  So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better.
1 Corinthians 7:36-38

We know from the previous parts of this chapter that Paul thinks it best not to marry because of the persecution that’s beginning to manifest in his society.  However, he lets us know that it’s simply his own opinion.

This passage is about another issue.  In that society, not all engaged couples were together because they “fell in love.”  There were arranged engagements.

The parents of a woman would negotiate with the parents of a man in order to combine their families – like a business merger today.  In that case, the couple was bound by tradition to be married.  That was the case even if they had never dated, or even met, before the engagement.

So Paul is talking to couples who are engaged either by choice or arrangement.  He tells them that their engagement is not the end of the world.  If they feel that for whatever reason, they shouldn’t be married, then they should call it off without guilt.

You may wonder what this has to do with us in our present generation.  There’s an important principle that we need to understand.

In our present culture, dating is more of a hobby.  Many go out on dates simply because that’s what most people are expected to do on the weekends.  I believe that this desire to always have a date is one of the things that’s weakening our marriages and families.

I don’t believe in dating; I believe in courting.  What’s the difference?  In courting, you only go out with someone that you think could possibly be the one God has for you.

I can tell you from experience that this works better than any other method.  I had only dated two other women before I met my wife (my junior year of college).  Because my brain wasn’t scrambled by the experiences of hundreds of dates, I knew almost immediately that she was God’s choice for me.

We were married in 1980 and time has proven that God’s hand brought Cheryl and I together.  There’s no one else on earth that I’d rather spend my time with.

So don’t succumb to the social pressure placed upon you to date all the time.  Leave room for God’s provision.  If you don’t feel called to be married, then simply be friends with those around you.  Enjoy your life with Christ and those He brings into your world.

A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives.  But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.  In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is — and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 7:39-40

Paul gives a final comment.  He wants to remind us of the seriousness of romantic relationships.  Marriage should be for life.  Believers must only look to marry a fellow believer.  In this way, God will be honored in our marriages.  Truly, God wants the very best for our lives, homes, and families.

Question: How have you seen the hand of God in your relationships?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2019 in Relationships

 

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Marriage is Not an Escape

In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul gives advice about our romantic relationships.  As we continue looking at these, he now talks about those who have never been married (virgins).

Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.  Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are.  Are you married?  Do not seek a divorce.  Are you unmarried?  Do not look for a wife.  But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned.  But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
1 Corinthians 7:25-28

You may think, from reading this passage, that Paul was against marriage.  That’s not the case.  This is referencing a certain situation that was happening in his day.

Persecution was beginning to break out against the church in some locations.  That’s what he meant by this present crisis.  He wanted them to weigh their decision carefully because of the uncertain future.

This is a very important concept for us to understand in our generation.  As a pastor, I’ve had the privilege of bringing many couples through the pre-marital counseling process.  It gives a lot of insight into what Paul is talking about here.

Let me explain.  In talking with couples, I ask them to give reasons why this marriage is right for them.  I’ve heard many answers.  There are some that don’t sit well with me.

“I want to get married now because this is the first person that has ever shown any interest in me and I don’t want to lose him.”

That’s not a reason to pledge your life to someone.  God is able to bring the right person along at the right time.  You can’t make a life altering decision, based only on someone’s availability and your desire to be married.

There are other issues as well.  I’ve seen people who are single but are in a bad family situation.  Their parents have an addiction problem or are very abusive.  They see marriage as an easy escape from their home environment.

This can end up making a bad situation even worse.  Marriage is not an escape from your problems.  If anything, it brings you a whole new set of problems.

I say this not at all getting down on marriage.  I’ve been married to my wife for almost 40 years.  I wouldn’t want any other life.  I love everything about our times together.

But I can tell you this – there are problems we faced together that we would never have had as single people.  Marriage comes with its own unique set of challenges.  You have to be prepared for this as a couple.

If you’re single, don’t ever look to marriage as an escape from a bad situation.  You may dream about being married someday.  But being married is never better than being single – UNLESS – you marry the special person that God has chosen for you.

So, to all the singles out there, I’m telling you to put your hope in the Lord.  If you want to stay single, then do so without feeling guilty.  If you want to be married, then trust God to bring you the right person at just the right time.

God wants your life to be abundantly blessed.

Question: How have you trusted God in your relationships?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Marriage Between Light and Dark

In my last post, we saw the Apostle Paul’s teaching on divorce between Christian couples.  Now he goes on to talk about marriages between a Christian and a non-Christian.

To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.  And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.
1 Corinthians 7:12-13

In this case, there’s a special set of circumstances.  You have two vastly different kingdoms living under the same roof.

It’s the problem of light and darkness coming together.  They don’t mix very well.  In many cases, the unbelieving spouse finds it very convicting as they live with a believer.  This is true even when the Christian isn’t actively trying to win them to Christ.

Because of this, Paul says that the decision should be left in the hands of the unbeliever.  If they’re willing to remain in the relationship, then the marriage should stay intact.

The reason it works this way is because of the influence of the Holy Spirit.  The Christian spouse brings a covenant blessing into the home because of their faith.

For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband.  Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
1 Corinthians 7:14

Please understand what Paul’s saying here.  The unbeliever is made clean in a ceremonial sense.  They’re not saved by the spouse.  A clean rock is still a rock.

God gives the unbeliever a position of cleanness.  This is so that the children can come under the covenant blessing.  Because of the believer, they’re covered by God’s promises.

God will always desire for the marriage to remain together.  That’s because the Holy Spirit has a chance to work on the heart of the unbeliever.

But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so.  A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.  How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband?  Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
1 Corinthians 7:15-16

As in all things, the rule is peace.  God wants our homes to be a refuge of peace.  That’s why He will not keep a believer and an unbeliever bound together.  A battleground between light and dark is no place to live.

God’s desire is for our best.  He wants our homes to be a place of blessing for both parents and children.

Question: How can God work on the unbeliever even if they decide to leave the marriage?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2019 in Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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Husbands and Wives

As we continue to look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, we’re about to enter the most controversial section of the entire letter.  Chapter 7 deals with romantic relationships.  I will deal with this section very cautiously!

I have to warn you; Scripture is Scripture.  I can’t change it to agree with social norms.  I can only tell you what the Holy Spirit spoke through the Apostle Paul.  With that in mind, try to proceed with an open heart.

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.  But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.
1 Corinthians 7:1-2

The people of Corinth had an interesting question that was sent to Paul.  Is it best not to have a romantic relationship?  First Corinthians, chapter 7, is Paul’s response to that inquiry.

The first thing Paul does is to lay down the foundation for everything he’s about to say.  The key phrase is because there is so much immorality…

Everything that follows in this chapter hinges upon that issue.  Their society was very immoral.  That means that this chapter is very applicable to us.  I don’t know if you noticed, but our generation is extremely immoral.

As a matter of fact, that’s what makes this section of Scripture so controversial.  The teaching of the Bible is in total opposition to what the world views as acceptable.  Because of this, our human nature would try to justify living like the society around us.

So, I’ve decided to simply tell you what Paul teaches in a very simple, uncomplicated way.  I’m not going to put my spin on it.  If you disagree with the teaching, then don’t get mad at me; I’m only passing on what was written.

Paul starts with his opening statement.  It’s the foundation for the marriage relationship.  His definition of marriage is – one man and one woman for life.  As a Pharisee, he understood that it was this way from the beginning of creation.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24

Our society may disagree with this line of thinking, but it’s a consistent theme throughout Scripture.  This foundation is what Paul was building on.

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.  The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband.  In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.  Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.  Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.  I say this as a concession, not as a command.
1 Corinthians 7:3-6

Paul is simply saying that if you’re going to marry, then you must maintain a sexual relationship as a married couple.  Any temporary pausing of this must be mutually agreed upon.

Sex is neither a weapon nor is it a way to motivate someone.  It’s a gift to be shared by a married couple.  The word, concession, literally means general knowledge.  In other words, Paul says that this is not a command, it’s just common sense.

We should make every effort to conform all of our relationships, especially our marriage, to what God has planned for us.

Question: Why would God’s advice on relationships be the best for us?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2019 in Prayer, Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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God = Love

This is my second post on what true love is all about.  Yesterday’s post showed that the only way to know love is to know God.  That is the basis for our understanding.

God is love.

Psalm 59:17
O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God.

The world talks about love, but it’s not the real thing that they refer to.  If you look at the statistics on marriage and divorce it becomes very clear.  Couples go into marriage saying that they are deeply and truly in love.  It is a love that will last forever.  Then, years later, when times of trouble come they are suddenly incompatible.

The fact is that we throw the word love around very loosely in our society.  We say that we love so many people and things, from boyfriends to French fries.  Yet our love is as changeable as the wind.  Some people or things that we loved last week have now been replaced with “better or newer” versions.

Love is actually a very serious matter.  Before we say that we love God…we better know what love is.  The Lord is our supreme example.

People talk about the various names given to God in the Bible.  Names like Jehovah-Jireh, God my Provider.  I have heard many sermons on the names of God.  But somewhere down the road we missed one.  I have never heard a sermon on the verse above.

The phrase translated “my loving God” is actually the name Elohiym-Checed, God who loves me.  God and His love cannot be separated.  Love is who He is.  He doesn’t have to think about whether He will love me or not.  God simply loves me because that is who He is and what He does.

Let God minister His love to you today.  Maybe you have doubted His love for you.  Let the knowledge of His character change your perception.  You are loved.  Let that thought override all others.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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