The beautiful bride and adultery
(we can all commit adultery towards God)
by Gini Crawford, MSW
Many years ago, a gal I knew, asked her husband, "How can you have an affair with your nurse, and now say you love me?" He said something pretty insensitive, "Oh it just seemed so right at the time. I hope it didn't hurt you because you are my love." We all know it did hurt her. This is because adultery breaks the bond of trust in a marriage, it destroys love and is framed in a betrayal that many never get over.
God's relational love.
God made us to need and desire faithful relationships - first with Him, then with each other. He created us to want to love and be loved, so that we could be loved by Him and to love Him as well as others.
Long ago the Lord said... "I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself." Jeremiah 31:3 (NLT)
God uses the Hebrew word hesed in the Old Testament to describe His idea of love in a relationship. It means - loyal, steadfast or faithful love. It can be translated love, unfailing love, lovingkindness, mercy, kindness and so forth. It stresses the idea of belonging together for those involved in a love relationship. It is the kind of relationship that would live out the wedding vows - until death do we part. In other words, it is a love that commits to the person and stays committed to them no matter what. God's hesed is central to His character. A covenant relationship with God is where hesed finds its strongest and most natural expression.
I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord. Hosea 2:19-20 (NLT)
God's covenant (marriage) relationship with us.
What does "covenant" mean? A covenant simply put means an agreement with a person or group of people to whom you are committed. Nowadays, the word treaty or contract would be used instead of covenant. The covenant relationship of marriage is a good example of what I am talking about. This is because marriage is a relationship where permanent commitment is involved. It's not a causal type of relationship.
Covenant in the Bible may be thought of as the committed relationship from which God's unfailing love becomes alive to us. However, God's love isn't bound by our commitment to Him because we tend to be unfaithful to our relationships, to the covenants (or contracts) we make with God and others. (In America we used to be able to seal a contract with a handshake; now we need to sign a stack of papers to seal a contract. In other words, in my country we have gotten a lot more unfaithful to the contracts we make.) God's love in His covenant relationship with us is bound by Who God is, not by what we do. God is never unfaithful, so His love in His covenant relationship with us is "hesed" or faithful, steadfast and unfailing.
I know it is hard for us to understand God's faithfulness because we humans can be so untrustworthy or unfaithful. We can easily become adulterers if we don't constantly guard our hearts. There was a man who loved God, but went through a season in his life when he loved himself and sex much more. Yes, we can break a marriage covenant without much thought or regret. Remember King David in 2 Samuel 12.
However, God never gives up on us, no matter what. His desire was so great to be in a marriage-like relationship with us that He died for us so that we could be. You can't get anymore desirous than that for someone! Can you?
After supper He (Jesus Christ) took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. Luke 22:20 (NLT)
When we believe in Jesus Christ, this puts us in a covenant marriage with Him. Jesus' Spirit also comes to live within us when we believe in Him, which makes us very intimate with God. You can't get any closer to someone than having them dwell within you (John 14:16-17). Actually come to think of it - it is an intimacy that none of us have with even our spouse, because it is supernatural. It's a God thing.
In Him (Jesus), you also, ...having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 NASB®
The word "pledge" in the Greek language has the idea of a solemn promise in it. Even today in Greece the word "pledge" can mean engagement ring. How appropriate because as Christians we become God's bride. So the Holy Spirit is God's pledge to us like an engagement ring. He is God's symbol of love given to us so we can know without a shadow of a doubt we are God's beautiful bride forever. Instead of wearing the love symbol on our finger, we wear Him in our hearts.
...being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:3 NASB®
We are told in Ephesians 5 that Jesus died for us so we could become His beautiful Bride - as a corporate Body as well as each individual in His Church.
...Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ... just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so 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 would be holy and blameless. ..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 reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined 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. Ephesians 5:23-32 NASB®
The word "glory" in the Greek language means glorious, splendid. Because of Jesus Christ you will be His pure and radiant bride. No matter how ugly and dirty your past may be, you are now cleansed from every sin and made a completely new gal from the heart outward, by belief in Jesus. And if that wasn't enough, Jesus lets you be clothed with His glory and righteousness, which gives you a supernaturally gorgeous wedding gown to wear forever. (Isaiah 61:10)
"Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb (Jesus), and his bride has prepared herself." She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear. For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God's holy people. Revelation 19:7-8 (NLT)
Our heavenly wedding dress
Let me tell you about a special outing with my daughter that makes a great illustration, for the extravagant wedding gown we will get as Jesus' bride:
Days before our wedding dress shopping trip, I had been praying we could find the perfect gown that would make my daughter look like a princess and wouldn’t bankrupt us. We arrived at the bridal store which had advertised a wedding sale. To be honest, I thought it was just a gimmick to get us in the door, so we could fall in love with a dress and have to have it, so we would pay a fortune for it. You know how this type of shopping works. As we started to look at the dresses, a sales gal came up and started to help us. I remember thinking, "Oh no, she will show us the most expensive ones after she shows a few dresses on sale that no one will buy." So I took matters in my own hands and said in a nice but firm tone, "Just show us the ones on sale." She turned to me and said, "They are all on sale." I have to admit I felt a little sheepish, so I sat down while she and my daughter found about eight dresses to try on. As I sat there I thought, "God please let my daughter find at least one she loves and that isn't a fortune." Well, God abundantly answered that prayer. Over half the wedding gowns my daughter tried on looked like they were especially made for her. She looked so beautiful in many of them that it was hard to pick one, and none of them were fortunes, at least from a mother's point of view. (Don't ask the father of the bride.) We found out later the store was owned by Christians. I thought, wow that is a neat example of Romans 8:28.
We all get a wedding dress as Christians that we don't even have to shop for. It is just given to us when we become Jesus'. But what we need to remember about this dress, even though it was free for us, it cost our Groom His very life to pay for it. Dear ones, He must really love us to give up so much for us! We could definitely say, our heavenly wedding attire is the most beautiful and priceless gown there ever will be!
The ramifications of adultery.
When a married person shows their love and attention to another over their spouse, adultery is starting to build. When the married person decides to be fully involved with their new lover, the sin of adultery has taken root in their heart and mind. This most likely gives the adulterer the temporary pleasures of sin, but sooner or later sin always turns into bad or evil in our lives.
And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, "God is tempting me." God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. James 1:13-15 (NLT)
I know many of you have seen and felt adultery firsthand - your father played around on your mother, your husband left you for another, you found yourself in love with another man, and so on. You know the ramifications of adultery, and how it destroys relationships. It kills trust and destroys love. It can give everyone involved a feeling of being betrayed - that doesn't easily heal. You can't break the covenant agreement that you made on your wedding day - that you would be one with your husband exclusively - and not have it set up some awful consequences in your life, your husband's life, and other's lives. I could go on about adultery but I am sure we all understand how harmful it is to relationships.
Have you ever thought, you might be committing adultery towards God as His bride? Have you ever thought about how harmful adultery is to your relationship with God? Since as a Christian you are Jesus' Bride, if you are giving your foremost love and attention to another you are committing adultery. Anything, or anyone you allow to consume your thoughts, drive your desires, and lead your actions to the point you place them over God and His will - that person or thing is a god to you! Wanting to be united to other gods will indeed set you up for some mighty awful problems with God. Ouch! (Hosea 1&2) Remember, even as an adulterer towards God, He still loves you.
Then the Lord said to me, "Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel (and you), even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them." Hosea 3:1 (NLT)
Life Application: If you are an adulterer towards God (I think all of us have been at times), confess to God your devotion of that person or thing above Him, and He will forgive you.
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:9 (NLT)
Prayerfully ask Him to empower you to love Him first, before anything or anyone.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30 (NIV)
If you are loving God first, then other people and things will not pull you away from Jesus your Husband, so you won't be committing adultery against Him.
To get a detailed study on how to love God - go to Lesson 8 of the Bible study "God loves You and Me."
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