Discipleship has steps for us to take before God.
A list of steps is something for us to see.
- We receive salvation not by work-behaviors before God, but by a reliance on God’s gift to us of His righteousness and God’s gracious provision of a debt that we could not pay.
- Having received salvation, our relationship with God leads us toward deeper sets of righteous pursuits – not to gain salvation, but in response to salvation.
- We pursue two basic aspects in response to God’s grace.
Romans 12:1-2 displays a form of “sacrifice” before God:
Rom 12:1-2 (NAS)
I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice,
acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
So here are the two basic aspects in response to God’s grace:
- As believers we try to avoid sin. We still do sin over life, but we seek obedience before God and displaying God. And when we sin we confess before God, apologize to God, repent of sin, and pursue going right directions.
- Responding to God’s grace we “sacrifice” and we pursue a series of steps:
- Submission to God – bowing before Him, having humility and surrender.
- Avoiding our flesh and pursuing God’s righteousness.
- We worship and have joy daily – everymoment of every day.
- We serve God by having love toward all. Our love toward others is a focus – not a focus on our feelings, but a love toward the others and ministry outreaches to people.
It can be possible that we don’t pursue discipleship because we don’t understand it. But another reason can be our focus on our own flesh: that is, focusing on our feelings and our thoughts. When we trust in Christ we are supposed to move our hearts toward God. We are to bow ourselves before Him, sacrifice ourselves to Him, and obey His instructions. That is not what causes us to be saved, but because we are saved we respond to God. Our sacrifice to Him is response to God’s grace – Romans 12:1-2 up above.
So what do these things have to do with marriage?
Being disciples causes us to pursue God’s teachings and callings.
SO – Marriage Oneness is one of God’s callings and a design for His kingdom.
There should be a pursuit before God versus submission to our flesh.
It is actually true that most of the time marriage is difficult. Engaged before wedding we are excited and in love. But over time in marriage we begin to have difficulties with each other. Partly because we are both sinners, but also because we often have different ways of doing things. We speak differently; we view things differently; we respond differently – there can be other differences – but the point is that our different ways cause a difficulty in our relationship.
So the question is whether we will still have a genuine oneness relationship in marriage. We have said above that it is not our feeling to have oneness. Rather, our oneness is God’s calling.
So, understanding Biblical Marriage ideas is an importance, and if we can pursue it despite some difficulties, it is one form of being a disciple before God.
Are you willing to do God’s works as disciples and in marriage?
In the former article we used an illustration about our obedience before God in marriage:
Here is a question: Do you believe in God? You say “Yes!”
Here is another question: Do you obey God? You say “Yes!”
SO – Do you give yourself up to the pursuit of oneness in marriage?
You say, “Oh, well, that is pretty tough. I may not be doing that.”
So let’s go back to the 2 questions: Do you believe in God? Do you obey God?
If you do, you will pursue oneness in marriage – as God’s design and calling.
If you are a believer and a disciple, you will obey God.
And if you obey God you will pursue oneness in marriage versus responding to your own feelings or thoughts.
So we are to have a oneness in marriage – as disciples.
SO – The way we pursue oneness in marriage is by having a sacrifice before God. In Ephesians 5:25 a husband – who is a leader in marriage – is supposed to love his wife as Christ has loved us. And Christ as a Lover died for us to pay a debt we could not pay in order to have a salvation before God. So that verse in Ephesians 5:25 is calling a husband to sacrifice to his wife as Christ sacrificed Himself to us.
And in several verses wives are to sacrifice to their husbands. Some important verses to read are:
Ephesians 5:22-24, 33; Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1-6.
So as the husband is not to live for himself, and the wife is not to live for herself. In both cases, the husband and wife as believers are to be sacrificial before God And being sacrificial before God is for us to be sacrificial in relationship with a spouse. If the spouse is not perfect in relationship, we are still called to be submissive to the other (Ephesians 5:21). And either one or both are sacrificing to the other. So our faith calls us to obey God and to pursue oneness in marriage.
In faith in God we are not to rely on ourselves – our flesh, or feelings, our thoughts:
It is interesting that God calls us to love all kinds of people – including spouses – versus responding to our own feelings and our own thoughts. So the idea of “love” in the Bible is different than the “love” that we have when we are engaged. In the engagement there tends to be a feeling of love. But the Bible describes love as a behavior in response to God, not a response to our feelings.
In 1 Corinthian 13:1-8 we see God’s design of love – in two different ideas:
- In 13:1-3 there are 3 illustrations of how we might be doing wrong ideas. Avoiding the biblical loves toward people we are not doing God’s true work. It says that if we do not do the biblical idea of love, we are “a noisy gong” – or “I am nothing” – or “my work profits we nothing.”
- In 13:4-8 there is a series of descriptions of spiritual loves:
“Love is patient, kind, not jealous, does not envy, is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly.
True love does not insist on its own ways, is not irritable or resentful.
It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
SO – Love is not our feelings. It is pursuing spiritual ideas of love. And if we are believers in God we are to be obedient before God, and as obedient we are to love our spouse, even if he or she is not what we really like . . .! See what do you think!
Tom Clark is a Family Life Ambassador with the Family Life Ministry and on the Advisory Board of the Virginia Christian Alliance.