What is the standard of truth? How do we know what is “right” and what is not “right?” Is “what is right” subjective to our circumstances? Is it subjective to our health? Is it subjective to our happiness?
For the Christian, these questions should be easily answered. The Bible is the standard of truth. What it says is true, and what it commands is good/imperative. God has chosen to reveal Himself to us through human authors who have recorded His divine revelation in the books of the Bible. Its truth is truth 100% of the time; there is never a time when God’s truth is not truth. And there is never a time when His commands are mere suggestions. Some of us read things like this and say, “well, it’s not important to think about all of this logic stuff… we just need to live right and love God.” Jesus said “if you love me, you’ll obey my commands,” (John 14:15).
But do we really believe that? There’s a difference between intellectual ascent (knowledge/belief) and active obedience (wisdom). James 2:19 says that even the demons believe in God… Christianity is about much more than belief – it’s about surrender. “Surrender what?” Keep reading.
If we believe that God’s word is truth, then what do we do with it when it reveals sin in our lives? For instance… what do you do when you come across a passage like James 3:10 (the tongue)? It tells us not to let filthy talk/cussing/curses come out of our mouths. So when we read that, what do we do with it? If it’s truth, then it is to be obeyed. And it is impossible to “love Jesus” and not obey His commands.
“But Tony, sometimes it’s just not that easy.” I know – and I agree. Many times, being obedient to God’s commands is just down-right hard… but that doesn’t change the imperativeness of the command, or the degree of the truth. Let’s take an excerpt from Jesus’ sermon on the mount into consideration. In Matthew 5:28, Jesus tells us that if we look on someone with lust in our hearts, we’ve already committed adultery. So how many of us, when we lust after someone (who is not our spouse) repent, confessing the sin of adultery? That’s what I thought. “But Tony, you can’t be serious! Really??? Adultery?!” Yep – not my words. Jesus’ own words.
Here’s the big one… Same passage, but now verse 32. You know the one… no divorce except in the case of sexual unfaithfulness.
side note: —————————
“But Tony, do you mean to tell me that I’m supposed to stay in this relationship even if it is making me miserable?” Matthew 5:32. “But Tony, what if she’s spending all of our money and sending us into bankruptcy?” Matthew 5:32. “But Tony, he keeps telling me that going to church is a waste of time, and that God doesn’t really love me.” Matthew 5:32.
Now let me throw in a disclaimer here… Sometimes, it is necessary to set boundaries in relationships. Henry Cloud and John Townsend co-authored an excellent book entitled Boundaries in Marriage, which I recommend to any of you who is dealing with this concurrently. I don’t want to take the space to explain the concept here – if you are experiencing a great challenge in marriage, I suggest reading it. I’ll let you borrow my copy if you’d like.
HOWEVER – divorce is not the answer. In fact, even in the case of sexual unfaithfulness in marriage, I don’t think divorce is the best answer. God is the God of restoration, forgiveness, and reconciliation, and He CAN restore your relationship. I’ve seen it many times.
Back to the point – – –
Why, then, are some Christians okay with divorcing their spouse because they “just aren’t happy anymore,” they “feel like he doesn’t care about me like he used to,” or, “I just don’t love him anymore?” This is where the -surrender- part comes in. “Surrender what?” you ask… Surrender your desires to His commandments.
“Why are you harping about marriage, Tony?” Because I believe that Satan is on a ravenous binge, seeking whomever he may be able to devour (1 Peter 5:8). I think he’s playing on our American-culture’s obsession with our own happiness, and using it to destroy family after family, and Christian influence after Christian influence. Marriage is under attack – and I don’t mean just legally, or philosophically. I mean spiritually. Satan is attacking our families, and it breaks my heart to see marriages – especially Christian marriages – fall apart because of our Western-world claim to happiness above all else, even above God’s truth.
I know, I know… this seems so barbarian. “Surrender my desires?” “Doesn’t God WANT me to be happy?” Sure – but, as I’ve written in other posts – more than wanting you to be happy, He wants you to be holy. And why? Why doesn’t God just want you to do your own thing and pursue your own happiness above all else? Because He knows that your happiness will result when you are pursuing His holiness.
God knows that true happiness doesn’t come from indulging ourselves in our own desires. He knows that true happiness comes from delighting ourselves in Him. Does He want you to be happy? Oh yes… but He wants you to be REALLY happy… and He knows that can only happen when you surrender your own ways, stop explaining away His truth, and become obedient to His commands.
What are you? – – – righteous, or rebellious?
Grace and Peace,