Marriage in the Beginning

Genesis 2:21-25 (NKJV) 21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

(We will be joining Pastor Steve and Dilonna Coran at their great church, Faith Fellowship Worship Center, in Jersey Shore PA. We will be teaching on the subject of marriage so I thought I would share some thoughts in my blog as well.)

There is a great deal of discussion today about marriage and family. My wife and I have been given the privilege of traveling to many parts of the world. We have been trusted to address congregations in Africa, India, South America and Europe on the topic of marriage. One of the challenges in teaching about anything to do with the family is that family is a very cultural topic.

The current debate over what constitutes marriage in the United States falls in the same category. When I begin my teaching on marriage and family in another culture, I always start with the same introduction. I tell them that every culture is wonderful. God created people with infinite variety. The cultures are expressions of that variety. I tell them that anything in any culture that does not agree with the Bible is wrong. No matter where we live, we cannot conform the Word of God to our culture we must conform our culture to the Word of God.

As I share on this topic, I would say the same thing to anyone who reads this. I know that there are some who follow my blog from other countries. You may have been raised with a completely different understanding of marriage and family than mine. Do not ask if I agree with your cultural understanding of marriage. Ask instead if what I am saying is biblical. If it is and your culture does not agree with what I am saying, I submit that you need to change.

Most of my readers come from the United States. I would say exactly the same thing to you. Some of what I will talk about will go against modern thinking. Some may call my point of view intolerant. I am intolerant of no one. I simply believe that God is real and that the bible is true. Do not judge my point of view. The question is whether what I am saying is biblical. If you determine that it is, next you have to decide if the bible is the guide for your life. If you do and your understanding of marriage does not agree with the bible, you have to change.

If what I am saying is not biblical, feel free to ignore it. If you do not believe in the bible as the absolute Word of God, what I say will be irrelevant to you. However, if you are a Christian who believes in the Word of God as the first and final authority in your life you must adjust your opinion and your culture to what the bible says about marriage. If that disagrees with culture or popular belief, so be it. The bible does not contain the Word of God it is the Word of God.

So, what does the bible say about marriage. There is a rule of bible interpretation that says that the first time something is mentioned in the bible it carries that meaning or throughout the Word of God. Today’s scripture is the first time that marriage is mentioned in the bible. In it, we can find some principles that are still biblically true today.

In the preceding verses, we find the story of how God brought all the animals before Adam to allow him to name them. There are many reasons why God did this but I want to focus on the part that is pertinent to our discussion. All cattle, birds and beasts of the field were paraded before Adam. The most important reason God did this is revealed in verse 20.

Genesis 2:20 (AMP) 20 And Adam gave names to all the livestock and to the birds of the air and to every [wild] beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a helper meet (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.

Do you suppose that God thought maybe Adam might find a suitable partner in any of the animals he brought to him? God knew none of these creatures was a suitable partner for Adam. Adam needed to understand that there was nothing in all of God’s creation that could be a partner for him in life. Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not man’s best friends.

Next, we see that God caused a deep sleep to come upon Adam. Today we call that anesthesia. God was about to do surgery on him. Not only did God know that no other creature could complete man, he also knew that man’s perfect partner had to be exactly like him only completely different. How could that be?

God took something out of Adam. We read that God removed a rib from Adam. I believe the bible, so that is what it was. The rib signifies that this partner is to stand by Adam’s side, not below or above him. However, I believe there is more to it than that. I believe God removed more than a bone from Adam. I believe he removed DNA from him. The DNA he removed contained something that made the being he created as different from Adam as she was the same. He removed that part of himself that we see as female.

Now do not panic! I am not saying God is a she. God represents himself to us as male. That said, did the idea of “female” come from somewhere else besides God? Is the female of the species less a child of God than the male? The New Testament tells us that in Christ there is neither male nor female. (Galatians 3:28) There is no difference in the spirit or in our standing with God.

One of the names of God is El Shaddai. Shad in Hebrew is the breast. This name of God implies that he is the “breasty one” or the source of all that we need just as the mother is the source of all that a baby needs. God represents himself to us as male but what we think of as female is also an aspect of God. It is that aspect of himself that he removed from Adam.

I am sure someone will ask what kind of creature that made Adam. I think he was human. I am not saying he was something other than what we see today. I am saying that somehow in God’s wisdom and ability he took the DNA building block from which he formed Adam, removed the female aspect of himself and made another person from it. She was just like Adam, but oh so different. Let the excitement begin!

So far, we can conclude two things about biblical marriage. First, nothing else in creation is a fit partner for man. His partner must be like him, but must also be different. What point would there for man’s partner in God’s plan to bring the same thing to the partnership that Adam did?

Second, we see that the one that God brought to him was created specifically to meet that need. She was made from what he was. The part of God that she represented was no longer a part of Adam. She was separate and unique and yet she was the same. She was his perfect “helper mate.” He was man and she was wo-man.

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What Overcomes the World

1 John 5:4-5 (NKJV) 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

It is the will of God that his people live as supernatural people in the natural world. The world needs to know that there is a God who loves them and can help them in life. The church has the responsibility to show them that he is there. We do that by walking in the supernatural. We walk in the supernatural by walking in faith.

This week we have been looking at what Jesus told his disciples just before he went to the cross. They were about to face the most difficult time of their lives but he told them that they could be at peace and have good cheer because he had overcome the world. The world, as spoken of in the bible, is the combination of the people and the system that opposes Christ, His will and His people. To overcome means to gain superiority over something. Jesus gained superiority over the people and the system that opposes the will of God in the earth. That is good news, but if it stops with Jesus, it does not help us. How does his victory become our victory? We see the answer in today’s scripture. What is the victory that overcomes the world? It is our faith.

We have pointed out over the last week or so that faith is one of the foundational truths that enables us to walk as supernatural people. We know that we cannot please God without it. We know that anything we do that does not flow from faith is called sin in the bible. We must also recognize that we cannot live in victory over the world except by faith. Will power will not do it. Education, money or social position will not enable us to overcome the world.

Success does not ensure that we will overcome the world. Often natural success can mean the opposite. If we are not careful, it can expose us to more temptation and more sin. The more we engage in the world system, the more we need to be certain that we are doing everything by faith. We do not have to be separate from the world. We simply need to walk by faith as we navigate through our interactions with it.

Let us look a little closer at this section of scripture. In verse one we see the beginning of a progression.

1 John 5:1 (NKJV) 1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves Him who begot also loves him who is begotten of Him.

Anyone who truly believes in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is born of God. That is what salvation means. Jesus called it being “born again” in John 3. Paul said we are “new creatures” in 2 Corinthians 5. If we believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess with our mouths Jesus as the Lord of our lives we are saved and if we are saved, we are born of God. (Romans 10:9)

Today’s verse tells us that “whatever is born of God” overcomes the world. I like to say that even if you do not feel good enough to be a “whosoever” you at least have to be a “whatever!” The first qualification to overcoming the world is to be born of God. If you are a Christian in the biblical sense of the word, you qualify. You have what it takes to overcome the world. In an eternal sense, you already have overcome the world. Verse 5 makes that clear.

Verse 4 uses some interesting wording. How do we walk in the victory of overcoming the world? John tells us that the victory “is our faith.” Once again, we see that faith is the connection between the natural and supernatural. In this verse, we have a promise. If we walk by faith, we can and will overcome the world.

We have talked a little about how Jesus overcame the world. I want to revisit that for a moment. Jesus overcame the world in his earthly life by never allowing it to dominate him in any way. He never sinned; not even once. We think that is impossible for us but it is not impossible for someone who overcomes the world. Sickness and disease, part of the world, could not attach itself to Jesus. If we can overcome the world, we can live the same way.

Although it would not seem that Jesus had many things or much money, he lacked nothing. Is that not the definition of rich? Someone who overcomes the world has all they need in every area. A person who overcomes the world can prosper and have nice things but they will not have him. That is the difference. On the other hand, a person who overcomes the world is not defined by what they possess. They are defined by their relationship to the Lord.

The old saying says, “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better!” I can say I have had times of financial blessing and times of financial lack. I like the blessing better for sure, but if I had to choose, I would take lack with the Lord to wealth without him. If we learn to overcome the world, we can have both.

Salvation makes us able to walk above the temptations and limitations presented by the people and the system that opposes God in the earth. That system came into being at the fall of man. That system will continue to be in place until Jesus comes again. This is necessary because God refuses to abandon his children. There will come a point where time, as we know it runs out. That is not something that is part of our area of understanding. When that time comes, all who can be saved will be saved and the beginning of a new age will come.

Ephesians 1:10 (NKJV) 10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth–in Him.

There is a day called the fullness of times out there. Until that day comes there will continue to be two realms competing for dominance on the earth. The world system is one and the spiritual system, the church, is the other. The world will continue to try to compromise our relationship with the Lord in order to minimize our effectiveness. The Lord will continue to exhort us to keep our focus on the things of God so that we can maximize the effectiveness of our time on earth. (Col. 3:1-3)

The will of God is that we overcome the world. He wants us to walk in a place of superiority over the world system. We may use aspects of that system to gain our spiritual objectives. However, we must never allow that system to be our source. We must never put ourselves in a position where we are dependent on that system. We have something much better.

That is why faith is so important to the believer. That is why we cannot please God without it. That is why anything we do which does not flow from faith in God is sin. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world. We have already overcome potentially because we are saved. We walk in that victory by faith alone. Nothing else will get the job done.

As we go through our daily lives, we need to examine ourselves. We need to ask the question, “Am I overcoming the world or is the world overcoming me?” If you do not have peace, it is an indication that the world is overcoming you. If you are not walking in “good cheer”, that is an indication that you are not overcoming the world. You may have enough or you may have noting, but if you have peace and joy in your relationship with Jesus, you are overcoming the world.

If you are overcoming the world inwardly, you will eventually see an outward manifestation of it. If you are not overcoming the world, no outward manifestation will ever bring you the peace and joy that makes life worth living.

What is the World

John 16:33 (NKJV) 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

For the last week or so, we have been looking at the role faith in God plays in helping us fulfill Jesus prayer in John 17. Jesus prayed that we understand that we are not of this world. He also prayed that the Father would not take us out of the world but that he would protect us from the evil on while we are in the world. My conclusion is that Jesus intends for us to be supernatural people, not of this world, living in the natural world. Faith is the thing that bridges the gap between those worlds.

This week we are taking our thought from John 16. At the end of the chapter, Jesus gives the disciples two promises. First, he tells them they will have tribulation as long as they are in the world. That is something we must understand. There is no promise in the bible that says we will not face difficult things in life. As long as we live on the earth, we are exposed to the powers at work in the world.

The second promise is a little more edifying. Jesus tells them to be of good cheer. He has revealed this to them so that when they face difficulties they can be at peace. He tells them this is possible because he has overcome the world. As I look at the world today, the need for peace and good cheer is clear. When you and I face some trial we need to look at the circumstance and remember that Jesus overcame the source of the trial 2000 years ago.

The disciples had lived with Jesus while he accomplished part of that promise. He had overcome the world by living above every influence and pressure it could bring. What they had yet to experience was the fulfillment of what he did while on the earth. In his death, burial, and resurrection, he overcame the ruler of this world once and for all.

Hebrews 2:14 (NKJV) 14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,

Jesus did not only overcome the world in his life but he overcame it in an even greater way in his death. Since Jesus himself placed such great importance on this truth, we need to understand what it is he overcame. What exactly is the world as Jesus understood it?

It is easy to see that he is not talking about the planet we live on. Throughout the book of John, Paul’s letters and the John’s letters, we see a contrast between what is called the world and the kingdom of God. John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that he gave his son to save it. We know from this that the world is something that needs saving. 1 John tells us more.

1 John 2:15-17 (NKJV) 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

The “world” is something that is contrary to the Father. It involves lust in the three areas of life that are the portals of sin. We cannot love the world and the Father. The world is passing away but the one who does God’s will lives forever. Therefore, the world is the opposite of the will of God.

We can see from all of this that there are two kingdoms at work. One is the Kingdom of God. The other is what the bible calls the world. Two groups of people occupy these two kingdoms. One is the group that Jesus calls “born again” earlier in John 3. The other is the group of people Jesus came to save. One group serves the will of God the other serves the will of someone or something else. Those in the Kingdom of God have been tasked with letting the people in the world know that God sent Jesus to die for them so that they could be free from the world and live forever with the Father God.

That is important to know, but it does not tell us what it is that Jesus overcame or why it is important to the disciples. Let us look at some definitions. The world is:

  • Greek: The ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ. World affairs, the aggregate of things earthly
  • The whole circle of earthly goods, endowments riches, advantages, pleasures, etc., which although hollow and frail and fleeting, stir desire, seduce from God and are obstacles to the cause of Christ
  • English: The concerns of the earth and its affairs as distinguished from heaven and the life to come
  • Summery: The World in this context is the combination of the people and the system that opposes Christ, His will and His people

To overcome means:

  • Greek: to subdue (literally or figuratively):—conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory
  • English: to get the better of : surmount difficulties; overwhelm: to gain the superiority : win

What is it that Jesus did for us that will release peace and good cheer into our lives no matter what we face? He subdued, conquered and gained overwhelming superiority over the people who do not serve God and the system that governs human society.

We are free to enjoy the many things life in this world has to offer. We do not have to live isolated from all forms of entertainment, technology or pleasure that comes with living physical life. They are not the problem. When the bible speaks of the world, it is talking about the system that governs people who do not live in accordance with the will of God. That system is the source of all that is ultimately destructive to people. Jesus overcame that system and the God of that system, the devil

When I am faced with a trial, I know that the source of that trial is the devil and the system he controls. I may have made mistakes that brought the trial on me but that does not change the fact that the problem is the world. We are in the world but not of the world. Jesus overcame the world in his life and in his death. He overcame both the world system and the god of that system. Therefore, I can overcome the world.

Jesus victory over the world was not for him. Everything he did was done for us. That is why he told his disciples that they did not have to fear and they could be of good cheer. His victory over the world was their victory over the world. Ultimately, it means that we live eternally with the Father. Right now it means that we do not have to live subject to the same rules that the people of the world live by. I am not talking about breaking legal laws. I am talking about accessing another world, a supernatural world, to overcome what we face in this world. That is what Jesus did.

How can we do that? What will enable us to make Jesus’ victory over the world our victory? That is for tomorrow.

Jesus Overcame the World

John 16:31-33 (NKJV) 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

As we continue to think about how to be supernatural people in a natural world, we understand that faith is the thing that bridges the gap between the supernatural world where God is and the physical world in which we live. Last week we spent some time with David as he walked by faith through a very troubling time. I cannot imagine anything worse than what he faced. While he was gone his home was ransacked and burned and his family was taken captive.

David could have fallen into despair. Instead, he chose to “encourage himself in the Lord.” I think it is safe to say that this encouragement involved declaring the goodness of God as well as remembering all that God had done for and through him. As he encouraged himself, hope that God could help them rose in his heart.

He then went to the Lord and acquired a promise that gave substance to his hope and made it faith. He stood on the evidence of that promise, communicated it to his men and they acted on the promise. They not only recovered everything they had lost, they also gained spoil in addition to what was theirs. I believe David’s story can be our story if we will do what he did when we face trials.

As I was praying about this week, I felt the Lord lead me to the verses above. The context is similar in some ways to David’s situation. The disciples are facing some difficult times. They have spent 3½ years with Jesus. He is letting them know that their time with him in a physical sense is ending. He promises them something better is coming, but that does not make the prospect of Jesus not being with them any easier.

We know that they were troubled because Jesus reads their heart in verse 22 and says “you now have sorrow.” In the verses before today’s scripture Jesus tells the disciples that he came from the Father and was going back to the Father. Here is the disciples response to what Jesus said.

John 16:29-30 (NKJV) 29 His disciples said to Him, “See, now You are speaking plainly, and using no figure of speech! 30 Now we are sure that You know all things, and have no need that anyone should question You. By this we believe that You came forth from God.”

I can almost see a little smile on Jesus’ face. “So now you think you get it. You really have no idea what’s coming.” They did not appreciate the severity of what Jesus was going to face. They did not understand the depths of despair they would fall into as the drama played out before them. They had no idea that they were going to find themselves hunted outcasts, hated by the Jewish leaders and the Romans alike. What is ahead of them will be worse than what is behind. However, he gives them and us words of hope that will sustain us through any trial.

He tells them that what he is speaking to them is designed to produce peace. He gives them a promise that we probably do not want. He says that in the world we will have tribulations. There is no doubt about that for them or for us. How can that produce peace? Because he also tells us that he has overcome the world.

I love what Jesus says here. He tells them, “Bad things are coming but you can be of good cheer!” If there are two things our world could use today, they are peace and good cheer. As we hear of more and more problems, conflicts and troubles in the world, what would it mean to be able to access peace and good cheer? We can face anything if we have peace and good cheer in our hearts. There is very little of either in world today.

We must believe what Jesus tells his disciples. First, in the world we will have tribulation. We cannot escape that. Nevertheless, we are not just in the world. We are also in him. It is in him that we can have peace and good cheer. If we make our relationship with the world the primary thing, we will have neither. When I cultivate my relationship with him and view the tribulation of the world through that, I am at peace and I can have good cheer.

Jesus tells them all of this is possible because he has overcome the world. What does he mean by that? He means that the world could not defeat him in any area of life. The world could not cause sickness to overcome him. Instead, he healed it all. The world could not cause poverty to overcome him. He had all he needed and more. Even when the enemy tried to take his life, he was completely impotent against the Lord. Jesus simply walked through the crowds that wished to stone him or throw him off cliffs and did so completely untouched.

The political and religious powers wanted to stop him, but they could not. When they tried to trap him into saying something incriminating, he turned the tables on them. When they wanted to arrest him before his time had come, he would do something that they could not dispute was from God. He humiliated the scribes and Pharisees turned over the tables of the moneychangers in the temple yet no one was able to arrest him because the people called him a prophet.

The time was coming when he was going to take steps that would overcome the powers of the world once and for all. He was going to sacrifice his life for humanity. It would look like a defeat to his disciples but it was anything but. He was about to win his greatest victory against the world and the dark powers that gained control over it at the fall of man.

We live in the day of that ultimate victory. He defeated death, hell and the grave. He redeemed us by his blood. He defeated him who had the power of death, even the devil. (Hebrews 2:14) He did not win this victory for himself. He did not need it. He had walked in victory over the world his entire physical life. He won that victory for you and me.

If you are facing some challenges that look like they may overcome you, be of good cheer. Jesus has already overcome them. There is nothing you or I face that is outside of his ability to overcome. (Hebrews 4:15) The devil did his best to keep Jesus dead but he could not. If the devil cannot even enforce death, what can he do that will overcome us?

We will have tribulations. That is a given since we must live in this world. However, we are not of this world. That is what Jesus prayed in the next chapter. We have quoted it many times this year already, but I am going to quote it again.

John 17:15-16 (NKJV) 15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

Jesus does not want us out of the world but he wants us to know we are not limited by the natural world. We are supernatural people with a supernatural relationship with Jesus. When we rest in that relationship we can have peace and good cheer because anything the world can bring to us Jesus assures us he has already overcome for us.