Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Spiritual Adultery

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. 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.

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. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

Romans 7:1-6
This was a big a-ha for me when it finally sunk in. This is the second time that I have studied Romans in BSF, and I've studied Romans through other means over the years as well. The part about dying to the law has always been clear to me. Because Jesus died on the cross, His undeserved death pays the debt for all my sin. So, in spite of the fact that I have sinned and will continue to sin, I am promised eternal life with a holy God. Thus, God's grace reigns, as opposed to the law's penalty. My last Romans post was a thorough look at being Dead to Sin, which helped me work through the idea of belonging to only one master (even though it seems that since I still sin, sin still has dominion over me).

If I choose to be dominated by sin by allowing myself to be controlled by sin, then I bear fruit for death. If I accept Jesus' death and atoning work (His sinless life paid for my sin), then I belong to Him. The fruit I bear belongs to Him. Fruit is a term that refers to changes in you that are a result of you belonging to Christ, for example the power to share Christ with someone else, possibly resulting in their salvation or new choices for them, mastery over areas of sin in your life, a changed character such as a peaceful outlook in the midst of trying circumstances, newfound love and compassion for others, or a more giving outlook.

God wants all of us. He wants us to be faithful and loyal brides. He doesn't want most of us, or what's left after we give of ourselves to our husbands and children and of course take all that "me-time" that we deserve. If you told your husband that he had 90% of your heart, but that 10% was still reserved for that high school sweetheart or the fantasy of the perfect husband, that wouldn't be acceptable. God desires the same of us. Just like we wear many different hats, and give our attention to other people and things (children, hobbies, a job, friends, ministry), we truly only belong to one husband. We are bound by law and by life to that one person. Although we are unfortunately pulled in many directions, including our own temptation to sin, we can still make sure that by circumstance and by our life that we belong only to Jesus. If you've made the choice to align yourself to Him, to submit to His lordship, and to grow in Him, then I think that you are spiritually wed to Him. If you are wavering, in forsaking something that you know you should forsake, or in making a full commitment to Him, then you are committing spiritual adultery. Remember that you are His bride and your true allegiance should be towards Him.

I don't have all the answers, by any means, but if you ever have any questions about any of this, feel free to email me or leave a comment and I'll get back to you in the comments. We are heavy into Christian doctrine--the whats, hows, and whys, and it's not easy.


Laura said...

I really appreciate the way you wrote this. I have a tendency to shut down when I read blogs that finger-wag from a pulpit of sorts, rather than sit along side and share. Your posts are written from a "sharing" type perspective, with wisdom and grace and I'm grateful for your insight and challenging words.

Understanding how to attend to the responsibilities and fun of the day and giving all of ourselves to God at the same time can be a bit of a struggle when one is just starting out to accomplish this idea of life as worship. I think that too easily the call of motherhood and keeping home can become an idol, even when the original response to that call was obedience. I, too often, make it be about the house, the chores, the basic needs of the kids, my husband, etc., and lose sight of why God called me home, why He called me to motherhood and how He wants me to go about it. I know that I have put His calling for me in this season above my relationship with Him many times and I appreciate the reminder and challenge your words were today.

Lauren S. said...

Excellent post! I truly appreciate your analogy of giving our husbands 90% and someone else 10%. So many times in the Bible, the people of God are referred to as his bride (Hosea, the church as the bride of Christ, etc...). We absolutely owe 100% allegiance. Thanks for the pointed reminder.

Jennifer said...

Laura, I especially appreciate your feedback about the way I handle this teaching. This is the way I strive to present these truths, but believe, I can sometimes be a bit of a finger-wagger, in life at least.

Lauren--my paster preached from Hosea, and that was where I got this analogy!

Rachelle said...

Great post! Really nicely written, too. I think all of us can relate to the analogy of belonging only 90% to our husbands.

I like your reminder that we are spiritually wed to Christ, and I think that's a good way to look at it. It helps us to identify in what ways we are being "unfaithful" to Him. I was reading something in Christianity Today recently that pointed out that we are not all individually "brides of Christ" but the church as a whole is the bride of Christ. I thought that was an interesting distinction, food for thought. However it doesn't seem wrong to think of ourselves, like you said, as being spiritually wed to Christ.

e-Mom said...

I love the way Scripture calls Christians the "Bride of Christ." I'm reminded that Jesus' first miracle was performed at the wedding in Cana. Marriage is the primary metaphor for the way His seed (His Word) is supposed to indwell believers, and bring forth life (righteousness). Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Dianne said...

I agree with the others; great post and no finger-wagging! Excellent thoughts to chew on today :)

Katrina said...

Great post, Jennifer, as others have said. God doesn't want my leftovers, or even "most of me" -- that's something I always have to be aware of and working on.

Elle said...

Found you through a link on In the Midst of It and was scrolling through when caught sight of the BSF logo. This is also my second time studying Romans through BSF. I agree with you that the doctrine is intense, but oh so wonderful to be chewing meat. Thanks for sharing your insight on this passage. I'm going to check out your other post as well.