Over the past year, I've heard several friends say that they have an "understanding" with God, and refuse to pursue anything further than that.
I get it, I used to be that way too. My relationship with God was on my terms, and I took way more than I ever gave back, but I always came crying to Him when everything went wrong. There were some days that I didn't talk to God at all, usually when life seemed to be okay.
When my marriage and family began to implode, my prayers took on a whole new level of seriousness. It wasn't just worship anymore, it became warfare. I was in for the fight of my life, and I knew if things were going to change, I needed to give God the true glory he deserved.
This post is the tough love I wish we'd received in those difficult, Godless times. It would've been helpful to have had someone lay out the cold, hard truths of the Bible for my husband and I. Those undeniable facts are sometimes the one thing that saves our life.
I pray that if there is someone still trapped in the haze of the enemy and his deception, this might be the wake up call they need to save their family, marriage, and life.
Steve and I come from a world of marriages and families where Christ isn't always the focal point.
We were that couple for many years.
There are many people who try to find a way to "have it all" without Christ as the focal point. They play by their own vague set of rules and wavering moral code. They drive themselves into the ground trying to have a successful career, decent marriage, good kids, and still do what is pleasing to them - even if it is displeasing to God.
Before coming to Christ, many of us used to think that if we had "good" or "kind" moments of humanity, that our sins would be disqualified.
God will look the other way about my infidelity if I give some extra cash to the homeless guy on the street corner. I'm still a good person. That's what it's all about, right?
There's only one cure for sin - repentance and the blood of Jesus. Then, Jesus makes it clear that we must not continue to carry on and repeat the sin.
As Christians, we look to the Bible as our daily instruction manual on how to live our lives. That's why it's critical that we open our Bibles and actually start reading them. This way, our perception of God is never vague and we can't confine Him to our own understanding or concepts.
One of the most dangerous traps that a person can fall into is assuming "we're good" or we've got this "understanding" with God. Saying a few prayers when everything is falling apart and acknowledging Him at Christmas doesn't mean "you're good."
Jesus makes it very clear that He is the only way to Heaven and eternal salvation from our sins.
"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through me." - John 14:6
God does not ask for us to have "an understanding", with Him. He alone is holy, good and righteous. Out of that holiness, He demands the worship and obedience He is due.
"He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.
And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments.
If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.
But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him.
That is how we know we are living in him.
Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did."
- 1 John 2:2-6 NLT
Satan will do all he can to distract us from living up to our full potential in Christ. Because marriage is holy - a godly man, his bride and their children - are a significant threat to him. When it comes to our marriages, we truly need to guard our heart. Not from our spouse, but from the enemy.
It is important to remember this when we are apart from our spouse each day and enter into the world- we cannot control other people's actions, but we can control our own.
If a woman or man makes an inappropriate advance, we are faced with two choices. We can submit to our low self-esteem - that starving demon that will break vows and disregard promises for the quick high of feeling desirable to the opposite sex. Or we can think with an eternity mindset, seeking God's favor and feeling good about ourselves, because we're honorable and beloved by The Lord and our family!
"But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself." - Proverbs 6:32
Chasing sin is like a dog chasing his tail. You will find yourself running in a perpetual circle, looking foolish, and never finding permanent satisfaction.
Engaging in flirtatious banter or a lingering glance puts our eternity in jeopardy. Jesus said that even to think an adulterous thought qualified as infidelity.
"You have heard the commandment that says, 'You must not commit adultery.' But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery in his heart."
- Matthew 5:27-28
Jesus makes it clear that we need to guard our hearts against even having indecent thoughts. If we become comfortable and allow sinful desires to brew within us, it is only a matter of time before those desires turn into actions. When we normalize or tolerate sins within and around us, we are pulled further from God and become easy prey for the enemy.
I believe Proverbs 7:1-27 serves as a powerful warning regarding both immoral men and women:
Another Warning About Immoral Women
Follow my advice, my son;
always treasure my commands.
Obey my commands and live!
Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes.
Tie them on your fingers as a reminder.
Write them deep within your heart.
Love wisdom like a sister;
make insight a beloved member of your family.
Let them protect you from an affair with an immoral woman,
from listening to the flattery of a promiscuous woman.
While I was at the window of my house,
looking through the curtain,
I saw some naive young men,
and one in particular who lacked common sense.
He was crossing the street near the house of an immoral woman,
strolling down the path by her house.
It was at twilight, in the evening,
as deep darkness fell.
The woman approached him,
seductively dressed and sly of heart.
She was the brash, rebellious type,
never content to stay at home.
She is often in the streets and markets,
soliciting at every corner.
She threw her arms around him and kissed him,
and with a brazen look she said,
“I’ve just made my peace offerings
and fulfilled my vows.
You’re the one I was looking for!
I came out to find you, and here you are!
My bed is spread with beautiful blankets,
with colored sheets of Egyptian linen.
I’ve perfumed my bed
with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
Come, let’s drink our fill of love until morning.
Let’s enjoy each other’s caresses,
for my husband is not home.
He’s away on a long trip.
He has taken a wallet full of money with him
and won’t return until later this month.”
So she seduced him with her pretty speech
and enticed him with her flattery.
He followed her at once,
like an ox going to the slaughter.
He was like a stag caught in a trap,
awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart.
He was like a bird flying into a snare,
little knowing it would cost him his life.
So listen to me, my sons,
and pay attention to my words.
Don’t let your hearts stray away toward her.
Don’t wander down her wayward path.
For she has been the ruin of many;
many men have been her victims.
Her house is the road to the grave.
Her bedroom is the den of death.
Let me assure you, God will never give you the green light to cheat on your spouse. God would also never craft a situation where another person's spouse is your "soul mate."
The answer is direct and simple. Only the enemy and those under his influence will encourage you to jeopardize your relationship with God and the sacred covenants made with Him. It's important to remember to hate the sin and pray for the sinner. There are people who have had their minds warped by the enemy and his lies for so long, that your prayers may be what helps rescue them from the devil's bondage and prevents them from harming others.
Guard your heart, my friends. It is precious and capable of giving so much love. If we are reckless and not protective, we allow easy access for the enemy and those individuals under his influence to harm us and put our eternity at risk.