Chapter 7 - Adversity in Relationships

Adversity in Relationships

Not all relationships are wise

Scripture is like a map that illuminates the sometimes murky waters of relationships:

Make no friendship with an angry man [or woman]; and with a furious man thou shalt not go.1

Avoid the immoral woman [or man].2

Avoid liars.3

Don’t reprove a scorner, because he will hate you for it; but reprove a wise man and he will love you.4

Avoid the gossip;5 don’t be a gossip.6 Gossip is a sin that God places on a level equal to murder.7

He that keeps his mouth keeps his life.8

Contention comes by means of pride.9 Avoid the proud and self-centered.

Fools make a mock of sin.10 Avoid the fool who mocks righteousness and thereby mocks sin.

Shun pride. “Pride goeth ... before a fall.”11

All of these scriptures fit together like the gears of a watch. But they are not written just to be studied; they are written to be lived. And in their living their power is made known. These scriptures are more than just smart. They are the most effective means to avoid adversity in this life. They are the means by which we experience the presence and the power of God.

How do these scriptures open us to the power and presence of God? John 14:21 tells us how to experience His presence through sincerely yielding to Him. We love Him by yielding to Him, by recognizing Him as our God, by obeying Him:

He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is who loves Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him [I will make Myself known to him].12

This verse is simple and powerful. It teaches that God makes Himself known to those who express their love toward Him through obedience. God makes Himself known to those who have His commandments (those who learn what His commandments are) and keep them.

We should remember, however, that obedience does not give us salvation; because salvation is a gift13 and one cannot earn a gift. Salvation is given to all who wish it, but initially it had to be earned. The penalty for sin is death so someone had to die. Jesus Christ purchased our salvation at the cost of His life.14 Since He purchased it, it is His to do with as He chooses. And He chooses to give it away.15 Because it is His to give, there is nothing that we can do to alter what He does with it other than ask for it and receive it as a gift. We can refuse it, but we cannot lose it. 16

So, salvation is a free gift, but the experience of God’s peace and presence is not a gift; it is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to all of those who have trusted in Christ and received the gift of salvation. The experience and the presence of God is acquired by surrender to Him. Surrender, true obedience is the way that we express love back to God and enjoy the peace of God.

Why is the presence of God not a free gift as well? Why must we obey Him in order to experience His presence? Because each piece of disobedience is the opposite of God. Each piece of disobedience, each sin, is a piece of spiritual death.17 But God is spiritual life:18 God does not dwell in the presence of continued, willful sin.19 So to experience the immense peace that comes with the presence of God, we must relinquish sin.

God saves sinners, that is true, but if those who are saved continue to sin, they cannot know God because sin separates man from God, and it does not matter whether the sin is committed by a Christian or not:

your iniquities have separated you from your God: your sins have hidden His face from you20

And again:

You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with you.”21

And again:

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived.22

And again:

as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.23

Unwise relationships are sin. Much adversity can be avoided by avoiding unwise or unscriptural relationships. That is especially true for the marital relationship.

Avoiding the Tragedy of the Unscriptural Marriage

The threshold sin that causes pain in marriage is entering into an unscriptural marriage. An unscriptural marriage is a marriage between two people who are spiritually unequally yoked.

This scripture means do not marry anyone who does not know Jesus Christ and is actually experiencing eternal life (a relationship with Christ).24 Why? Because only the one who knows Christ will have the spiritual strength to give what is required to establish a relationship on a spiritual level. Marriage to an unbeliever or a carnal (sinning) believer limits the available intimacy because it renders the deep marital intimacy that is contemplated by scripture to be impossible.

Of course, the sin of marriage to an unbeliever is easily committed because the embrace of human love makes it easy to believe that one is seeing the entire picture and that nothing will ever change. But the warmth of a rare and fulfilling relationship obscures the inevitable realities. It is for this reason that scripture warns us to guard our heart first.25

Love without Christ will cool, but lovers who walk with Christ will never cease to love because human love lives in the presence of Christ. Why? Because when God is present He brings love; He can help it because He is love (First John 4:8) and He is always present in the presence of righteousness. The righteous relationship is empowered with the presence and love of Christ. It never dies and it never cools; it is supernatural and not dependent upon the fickle heart of either man or woman. Warm, actual, passionate human love in a marriage need not ever die. Eros, which is Greek for human love is empowered by the presence of Jesus Christ. God invented eros, He created romantic, physical, passionate human love and romantic, erotic, passionate human love is good. All of God's creation is good.

But His presence is contingent upon obedience to His word (scripture).26 And before marriage, obedience means to abstain from fornication. God created the sex act for procreation and for intimacy in a marriage. He did not create it for recreation. Those who honor Him will be honored by Him. Those who dishonor Him by committing sin will face the inevitable consequence of sin. Each sin is piece of death. Sin kills. Sin does not thwart, injure, hurt, or embarass relationships. Sin kills them. If you have not discovered that, you will. It is only a question of time and pain. Sin is death and sin kills. God brings love and life; sin kills love and brings pain and death. Most lovers do not simply drift apart. They kill their love by committing sins that they refuse to recognize as sin. Those who find this hard to believe have only to cease from sin and see what happens.

If fornication is the primary premarital sin, condemnation and criticism are capstones of post-marital sins. Therefore, an excellent marriage begins precisely at Matthew 7:1.27

It is astounding how much difference obedience to this one scripture can make to a marriage. This scripture is so powerful that after watching it work it is easy to conclude that those who ignore it are either ignorant of it or they deny it or they find that their family is simply not worth the trouble to turn from it. Matthew 7:1 and its companion scripture, Matthew 6:14, are keys that invariably work to restore, protect, enhance and, when necessary, save a marraige and a family. If the marriage is plagued with overt sins such as adultery, flirtation or drunkenness, however, these must be totally eradicated first.

Sin can be both covered and resolved by God’s presence, but where the mate is either an unbeliever or does not live his or her life in such as way as to invite the actual presence of Christ, the purpose of God is thwarted and the disheartening reality becomes evident: God never comes where He is not invitedexcept in judgment.

Therefore, instead of using the light of passion to discern wisdom and truth, use the lamp of scripture:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness28

Before a marriage, each party presents a pretty face. But after the marriage, things that were obscured come to light. Unless a commitment to scripture is evident in a prospective spouse before the marriage, it is difficult to predict how one will be treated after the marriage. And how one is treated after the marriage is everything.

Let us consider the advantages of yoking one’s self with someone who is wholly committed to scripture and surrendered to Christ. A spouse who is surrendered to Christ is someone who:

1. Treats you better than himself or herself.29

2. Treats you in the way that he or she would want to be treated.30Treats you with patience and kindness. Your mate is someone that is not self centered. He or she never embarrasses you (never acts unseemly), is someone who is rarely provoked to anger; someone who thinks no evil of you and speaks no evil of you. Your mate bears everything and endures everything that you may do. If you are a wife, your husband is someone who would never strike you but always take care of you, provide for you and protect you.31

4. Your spouse is constructive, intent on building you up and building a family;32

5. Your spouse is someone who will always forgive you, and never hold a grudge;33

6. Your spouse is someone who will never criticize you or condemn you even if you deserve it,34 but may, if you wish to hear it, offer you constructive rebuke.35 If you are a wife, your husband loves you as his own body;36 he loves you as Christ loves the church and he will sacrifice himself for you. His goal in life is to ensure your happiness and safety,37 and to provide for you and your children;38 he will never criticize or condemn you.39

8. If you are a husband, your wife will yield to you, recognize your leadership, love you, respect you and never speak ill of you40 and never criticize or condemn you.41 And if you are a wife a scriptural husband will love you with a sacrificial love, giving his life for you, for your well being and your children's. He is commanded to love you as Christ loved the Church. This is the balance of the Christian marriage.

9. The scriptural mate has no desire to relate to anyone else inappropriately (flirting),42much less commit adultery. The committed mate will never lie to you43 or otherwise deceive you.44

10. The committed husband will provide for his wife and his children45 He will not require his wife to provide for him. His wife will not be the provider; she will be the keeper of the home and the mother of the children.

It is easy to see how a marriage of equally committed spouses can be exceedingly pleasant.

On the other hand, it is also easy to see that if one spouse disregards these truths because of an incomplete commitment to scripture, the marriage can be exceedinglyand permanentlyunpleasant:

1. He or she treats himself or herself as more important that you rather than the other way around;

2. Treats you the way that he feels to be appropriate rather than how he would himself prefer to be treated. Treats you with patience and kindness sometimes. Your mate is self centered. He or she sometimes embarrasses you and can be provoked to anger; he or she remembers wrongs and sometimes speaks evil of you to third parties. Your mate has clear limitations on what he or she will cooperate with you and support you. If you are a wife, your husband is someone who might even strike you; he may not provide for you and protect you. He may even require you to provide for him. If you are a husband, you have a wife who is dissatisfied because she does not have the peace of Jesus Christ. She nags and criticizes you.

4. He or she is not intent on building you up and building a family.

5. He or she is someone who will not really forgive, and who holds a grudge against you.

6. He or she criticizes you or condemns you because it appears to be appropriate. Speaking the truth in love, "tough love" or “constructive criticism” is often condemnation in disguise. If you are a wife, your husband is a man who loves you when he needs to, and when it is expedient; he is not self-sacrificing. His goal in life is to ensure his happiness and equanimity, and be provided for; he may well be critical.

8. If you are a husband, your wife will not yield to you or recognize your leadership. But instead she believes that yielding to a husband is somehow demeaning and it makes here less that equal. She feels free to speak of you critically to her friends. If you are a wife, your husband does not express love to you. He does not seek to honor you, protect you, cherish you and provide for you.

9. He or she has to fight a desire to relate to someone else inappropriately. He or she may deceive you.

10. The husband relies on you, not on himself, to provide for the family.46

Much adversity - a lifetime of adversity - can be avoided by yielding to Second Corinthians 6:14 and refusing to yoke one's self with an unbeliever.

The husband who loves his wife as Christ loves the church will enable his wife to yield to him, to treat him with respect, to never criticize and never speak ill of him. And the wife who yields to her husband’s authority and treats him with respect and never speaks ill of him or criticizes him will enable her husband to love her sincerely, sacrificially and to the death, as Christ loves the Church, with a love that is so strong and so evident that it is never questioned, a love that continually strengthens the iron core of intimacy: complete trust. In this way each spouse inspires the other to be the person that he or she was created to be. And rather than a spiral descending into divorce, the two become two lights spinning in the night of a fallen world.

1. Proverbs 22:24

2. Proverbs 5:3-6 “For the lips of a strange woman drop as a honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, and sharp as a two edged sword. Her ways are moveable, that thou canst not know them.”

3. Proverbs 6:19 “... the Lord doth hate ... a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”

4. Proverbs 9:8

5. Proverbs 26:22,23 “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out; so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceases.” Proverbs 20:19 “do not associate with a gossip.” (nasv)

6. Psalm 101:5 “Whosoever privily slandereth his neighbour him will I cut off.

7. Romans 1:29 “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness ... murder, debate [contentions], deceit, malignity; wisperers [gossips], backbiters, haters of God...”

8. Proverbs 13:3 “He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life, but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.”

9. Proverbs 12:10 “Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.”

10. Proverbs 14:9 “Fools make a mock of sin: but among the righteous there is favor.”

11. Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

12. John 14:21

13. Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”

14. Romans 5:8 “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The gift of salvation is therefore Christ’s to give, not ours to earn. And Christ chooses to give it to whomever wants it: “And whosoever will let him come take the water of life” Revelation 22:17.

15. Revelation 22:17 “... And let him that is thirsty come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. ... And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. ...”

16. Romans 8:38 “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

17. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life.” Ezekiel 18:4 “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth shall die...”

18. John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.”

19. John 14:21 “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth themI will love him and will manifest Myself [make Myself known] to him.” In this verse we find the true core of true Christianity: the actual experience of the presence of God. The experience of the presence of God is a spiritual love affair, an experience which, when superimposed upon any life transforms it in to something wonderful. It is this experience that draws men to the well of scripture where every drop is peace. Here, and only here, do we find faith transformed into awareness. Here, in this scripture, is the sum of it all: knowing Him. “This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.”

20. Isaiah 59:2

21. Psalm 5:4

22. First Corinthians 6:9

23. Galatians 5:21

24. John 17:3 “These words spake JesusAnd this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent.”

25. Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

26. John 14:21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him."

27. Matthew 7:1 " “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you."

28. Second Corinthians 6:14

29. Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind [humility] let each esteem other better than themselves.”

30. Matthew 7:12 “Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”

31. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Charity [the word translated as “charity” in the King James version of the Bible is agape, which is unconditional love] suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth ...”

32. Proverbs 14:1 “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”

33. Matthew 18:21,22 “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee Until seven times; but Until seventy times seven.”

34. Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”

35. Proverbs 9:8 “rebuke a wise man and he will love thee.”

36. Ephesians 5:28

37. Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it.”

38. 1 Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

39. Matthew 7:1 “Judge [criticize] not

40. Ephesians 5:23 “For the husband is head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the savior of the body.”

41. Matthew 7:1 “Judge [criticize] not

42. First Corinthians 13:5 Love does not “behave itself unseemly.”

43. Revelation 21:8 “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Proverbs 19:9 “he that speaketh lies shall perish.”

44. First Corinthians 6:8 “Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud

45. First Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

46. First Timothy 5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”