Friday, December 23, 2005

Jonathan & Helen Floyd

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Blood Covenant of Marriage

In every culture, every tribe, every nation that there has ever been in the world, there has always been a form of marriage. From isolated natives in the rain forests of Brazil to Eskimos in Greenland; from the ancient Britons to the ancient Chinese, marriage has been and still is a way of life.

Why? And why sex for marriage only and not outside it? Why did God plan it that way?

We see in Genesis that God made the earth and it was good. Then God saw something that wasn’t good. What! Something not good, something bad in God’s earth! Yes, God saw that it was not good for the man (Adam) to live alone. So He took a rib from Adam’s side and He made woman. Then God gave the rib (Eve) back to Adam – the first marriage. We see that Adam saw his wife as being ‘flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone’. Part of him. The Bible says that the two became one (Genesis 2:24) and this is repeated later in the New Testament. (Ephesians 5:31)

Genesis 2:27 show us that man was made in the image of God, but he was made in two parts: male and female. Woman (literally, ‘from the womb of man’) was skilfully crafted for the glory of man to surround him with aid and assistance as his helper. When the two become one flesh, two ‘incomplete beings’ become one complete being. They present the image and glory of God in one unit, one flesh.

Marriage is a picture of Christ and His bride, the church. A bride “without spot and blemish”, the Bible tells us. Every time a virgin marries she is giving testimony to this.
In the spiritual realms she is portraying Christ and his pure bride, the church.
The main reason the devil uses sex outside marriage is to take away woman’s virginity before marriage.

The marriage theme runs through the Bible from the start of Genesis to the end of Revelation (Rev.22:17).

Jesus taught in parables. A parable is an earthly example of a spiritual reality.
Marriage is a parable about Christ and the church.

The decision to marry is like the decision to accept Jesus as Saviour.
When we are ‘born again’ we become one with Jesus. (1 Corinthians 6:17)
Ephesians 5:30 says, “We are members of His body”.
Believers are one body with Christ, as a husband and wife become one flesh in marriage.

All cultures known to man have had: -
1. Blood covenant/sacrifice.
2. Marriage.

Fallen man often perverts these (i.e. polygamy).

To understand marriage we need to have some knowledge of blood covenants.
God thinks in terms of unbreakable covenants.
The whole Bible is based upon a covenant relationship:
i.e. Abraham (Genesis 17:4)
Moses (Exodus 24:1-8)
David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1-4)

The most important covenant is the one we have with God through the blood of Jesus. (Hebrews 13:20; Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 12:24)

Christians’ lives are based on this covenant relationship with God.
In a covenant – whatever belongs to one party: family, possessions, the whole life, is given to the covenant brother. All decisions are made with the covenant brother in mind.

That’s what we have in our covenant with God.
The new covenant is ratified with the blood of Jesus.

Marriage is a blood covenant

As marriage is a covenant, all the rules applying to a covenant also apply to the covenant partners in marriage. All that belongs to one also belongs to the other.

The devil hates marriage because it is a constant picture of Christ and the church.

Christ’s love for the church and his relationship with the church are based upon an eternal blood covenant – it is irrevocable, unchangeable, pure and everlasting.

The devil cannot change this, so he attacks the witness – marriage.

We need to see marriage as God sees it and we need to know our enemy so that we can thwart his attacks.

Remember: 1. Marriage is an earthly parable of the relationship between Christ and the church.
2. Marriage is an everlasting covenant that is sealed with blood.

The Bible tells us that life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11) and all through scripture we see that blood is significant.
The first blood shed on earth was the animal killed to clothe Adam and Eve after the fall of man (Genesis 3:21). It was the first time something had died. We then see, in Genesis 4:4, Abel’s sacrifice ( a blood sacrifice) was accepted by God. Later on, a whole system of sacrifice was set up and also a system of circumcision.
These blood covenants were pointing the way towards the ultimate sacrifice, once and for all, made by Jesus, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world”.

A blood covenant is an agreement made between two parties and sealed with blood;
It is unbreakable.

In a woman’s body is a membrane called the hymen. It is this membrane that is broken the first time a woman has sexual intercourse. God provides the blood shed at this time for the blood covenant of marriage. This is the seal of the union of the man and the woman, the husband and wife.

A woman remains a virgin until the hymen is broken. In most cultures of the world a woman cannot get married unless she is a virgin. No man will have her.
In our culture, however, virginity seems to have very little importance. I think we can see that it is very important.

“Let marriage be held in honour among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled;
for fornicators and adulterers god will judge.”
(Hebrews 13:4)

“God wants you to be wholly and completely free from sexual immorality. Each of you men should know how to live with his wife in a holy and honourable way.”
(1 Thessalonians 4:3-4)

Sex – God’s wonderful gift

Sex is a special and wonderful thing created by god to give us the greatest pleasure we can experience. Sex is absolutely fantastic!

But would a sexually abused child agree? Would a rape victim or a sufferer of VD or AIDS caught through sex? What about a woman with an unwanted pregnancy or a prostitute whose body is being sold over and over again?

Why should sex, created so wonderfully by God, be dragged down to the very depths of human misery and deprivation?
The reason is that the devil hates sex. You see, the devil knows that God made sex for marriage only.

In that legal bond of marriage, set up by God, sex can reach heights of pleasure beyond any other experience. But outside marriage the devil reduces it to the most sordid and sad state imaginable.

Not so long ago a case came to light of Mafia chiefs procuring children as young as 18 months to be used for sex. Stories are common of young Mexican girls being smuggled into the United States, believing they were to receive a better way of life. In actuality they were gang-raped and then murdered, while the whole thing was recorded on videotape to satisfy the fans of ‘snuff-movies’. A Christian organisation reported the rescue of a young girl from a satanic coven; her baby had been sacrificed on a Satanist altar.

Blood and sex both feature prominently in satanic rituals.
The devil tries to pervert the two most precious gifts given to man by God.

Sex outside marriage can be a harmful thing, no wonder God speaks out against adultery 57 times in His Word and against fornication 43 times. When God speaks out about a subject 100 times we had better listen!

The word ‘fornication’ is also translated ‘whoredom’. It simply means any male or female having sex outside the marriage covenant which God set up as holy. God regards this kind of act as so sinful that other Christians are not even supposed to eat with you if you are involved in it while professing to be a Christian.
(1 Corinthians 5:9-11)

Sex outside marriage is like a fish out of water. Take a fish out of water and it will die. God wants the fish to be in water so that it can live – He made it that way. God made sex to be in marriage – He made it that way for a reason.

The devil wants to rip us off by getting us to think that sex with anyone at any time is okay. He lies to us and tells us that virginity is something to throw away as soon as we can. Our society is full of unfaithfulness and people’s sense of self-worth has been shattered. Sex before marriage promotes self-gratification and immaturity because it is just uncontrolled pleasure without responsibility or commitment.

As Christians we can choose to be different. It’s not that complicated – by waiting to have sex in a marriage relationship is to fulfil God’s plan.

Preparing for marriage

If you are a single person trust God for your marriage partner. You don’t have to try people out before you meet the one you are going to marry. If you believe God is capable of finding you a partner, then let Him do it! Believe God for your marriage partner. When you meet someone and you’re not sure if he or she is ‘the one’, treat each other with respect. Don’t mess around with someone else’s future husband or wife.

Virginity is the most precious gift a woman can give her husband.
We have already seen the spiritual importance. It does take real self-control for a man to behave properly towards a woman, protecting her until she is ready to enter into the blood covenant of marriage.

With the brainwashing of the minds of single people that sex is a natural thing to do with anyone at any time, the chances of the sin of fornication happening in dating are tremendous.

The Bible says:
“Flee fornication. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but he who commits fornication sins against his own body.”
(1 Corinthians 6:18)

God tells us over and over again to flee from immorality, because it is a sin against the body. No other sin is against the body. We are told not to commit adultery or fornication. As we saw from the Bible, Jesus came to give us life – to the full.
So if we are told not to do something it must be because it will hurt us if we do it.
The enemy tempts us to disobey the Word of God, because he knows that the Word is best for us. Therefore, if the devil succeeds in getting us to go against the Word he will succeed in hurting us.

In most cultures of the world it is a prerequisite that a bride is a virgin. Until recently it was also the case in western society; sex before marriage is new! Of course it did happen before now. Now and again people have always sinned – and yes, it is still a sin, in spite of any modern trends. But never before has so much pressure been on single people to have sex before marriage. Where does the pressure come from?

You may think it’s your own choice. Ultimately the choice is yours whether to say yes or no to sex before marriage. But the pressure doesn’t come from your boyfriend or girlfriend. It doesn’t come from your friends or society or from the media. The real pressure comes from the devil. Don’t be deceived, he wants to spoil your life.

Why does sex before marriage spoil things?

First of all, sex before marriage takes away a woman’s virginity.
As we have already seen, in a woman’s virginity is contained the blood with which the blood covenant of marriage is sealed.

A question arises at this point. Many young women of this generation have lost their virginity before they were Christians – how can they fit into God’s plan?
Well, the good news is found in the New Birth.

“Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (KJV “…all things have become new”)
(2 Corinthians 5:17)

When you are born again you are a new creation,
“…unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
(John 3:3)
The new creation includes every area of your life – it includes your virginity.
Every sin you committed before you were born again is now in your past – the old things passed away. Thanks to Jesus you begin your new life pure and holy.

If you have any doubts that you are born again, maybe you need to start your new life now. From the point at which you are born again it’s up to you to protect your virginity.

Men have responsibility too; if you are not sure that the woman you are with is going to be your wife one day then you should think of her as somebody else’s wife. So treat her with respect. If you are sure that she’s the right one for you then have enough respect for your own marriage to wait until after the wedding.
1 Timothy 5:2 says we are to treat young, single women as ‘sisters’ and older women as ‘mothers’ until we’re married to the perfect one for us – until we’re married to the one who is “flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone.”

Men – you have the grace as a Christian to portray Christ’s love for His bride. As we learn what it means to be a Christian, to be his witness, let us take up the challenge to control our sexuality until we can give ourselves completely to our marriage partner.
Sex is incredibly powerful, but it’s only truly at its best within marriage. Anything short of what God wants and created sex to be is less than the very best. As Christians we don’t have to settle for second best. We have a new beginning in Christ. Go forward into your new future with confidence!

A marriage built on a foundation of purity and self-control during the time before marriage, the courtship time, has a solid base to build upon.

Ephesians 5:22 – 33
“Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church. He Himself being the Saviour of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.
FOR THIS CAUSE A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND SHALL CLEAVE TO HIS WIFE; AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.”

This scripture shows us that marriage is an earthly illustration of a spiritual truth. We can see that the relationship between a husband and wife is just like the relationship between Christ and the church.

Like anything else, the foundation is the thing to get right before the building can stand. In marriage, what happens before the wedding day is as important as what happens on the day, as it affects the building of the marriage. A marriage built on solid foundations of a pure and holy relationship has every advantage; it can stand when pressure comes.

Attacks on Christian marriages are more prolific than ever in history. Jesus will never ever be unfaithful to us. The devil knows that and hates it, but there is not a thing that he can do about it. Instead he attacks the witness, the earthly example. Don’t forget that at all times we are in a spiritual war.(Ephesians 6:10-12)
There are spiritual reasons behind the things that we do.

Jonathan & Helen Floyd - 2001