Better Living Under A Better Covenant II
Hebrews 13:4-6 – 4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. 5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”.
Consecrated Honor for Marriage
The world today is obsessed with sex as never before. Sexual activity apart from marriage is considered acceptable and normal by more and more people. The publisher of a leading pornographic magazine maintains that “sex is a function of the body, a drive which man shares with animals, like eating, drinking, and sleeping. It’s a physical demand that must be satisfied. If you don’t satisfy it, you will have all sorts of neuroses and repressive psychoses. Sex is here to stay; let’s forget the prudery that makes us hide from it. Throw away those inhibitions, find a girl who’s like-minded and let yourself go.”
In today’s society, the honor and sanctity of marriage is under constant attack. Sex outside of marriage is common place. The Hebrew’s writer warns that God will judge fornicators. The word “fornication” comes from the Greek word is pornos from which we also derive the term “pornography”. The term “fornication” can refer to many kinds of sexual sins, including homosexuality, incest, etc. (Acts 15 :20; 1 Cor. 6:18). God will also judge adulterers. This sin represents relations between those where one is married. Adultery is also considered normal. In contrast, a life-long faithfulness to one’s spouse is unrealistic in this modern era. In Old Testament Israel, it was a capital offense to commit adultery, punishable by stoning. Today, adultery is promoted by modern “no-fault” divorce laws which allow divorce for any cause (Mt 5:32; 19:9).
Marriage is honorable and only within marriage is sex acceptable. Some false teachers attacked sex. There were ascetics who despised marriage and held celibacy to be a holier state than marriage. Paul prophesied that in the future some will “forbid marriage” (1Tim. 4:3). Within marriage, sex is beautiful, fulfilling, creative and necessary. Outside marriage, it is ugly, destructive, and damning (1 Cor 7:3-5). This is why marriage is to be held in honor.
Marriage is honorable because of its Designer. “Honor” means to hold in high value, precious, costly, dear, something worth every ounce of human effort. Marriage is to be treasured like gold and silver or rare jewels. It must not be touched or handled casually or treated commonly. God established it at the creation of man and woman. He legislated its rules and regulations (Gen. 2:24). God made one man for one woman for one life time with one exception for divorce (Matt. 19:9). Jesus honored marriage by performing His first miracle at a wedding. Those who fool with God’s creation will be judge by Him.
Marriage is honorable because of its Design. God made marriage for the propagation of children, (Gen. 1 :28); to provide for companionship (Gen. 2: 18); and to prevent sexual sin (1 Cor. 7:2, 8-9). The marriage bed is a euphemism for the physical intimacy of married life. The Greek word used here is “koite” from which we derive our word “coitus” which means to be joined together sexually. The original word meant a bed.
Marriage is honorable because of its Boundaries. Just like in our city, wherever people live close together, boundaries are essential, and respecting those boundaries makes peaceful relationships between neighbors possible. Boundaries tell us where and what is off limits. Another’s husband or wife is off limits. God has designed that sex be limited to marriage. Outside of marriage there is no such thing as safe sex.
Marriage is honorable because of its Participants. Marriage is a personal choice to say “yes” to one and thus saying “no” to all others. You can’t share your body with anyone else but your mate. Anyone or anything else, such as pornography, defiles the marriage bed.
Marriage is honorable because of its Permanence. Friendships come and go. Most relationships only last a few years. Marriage is to last the rest of our lives. Marriage vows are not to be taken lightly but rather to be considered a life- long commitment. It is a lifetime contract (Mal. 2:16; Rom. 7:2,3).
Marriage is honorable because of God’s Judgment. When the rules of the Designer and the boundaries are violated, marriages are destroyed. Sexual immorality is a major cause of divorce, which God hates (Mal 2:16). It destroys families, friendships, and futures. Fornication will cause the defilers to destroy their own lives (Prov. 5:1-14). David was forgiven of his sin with Bathsheba, but he suffered the consequences of his adultery for years to come. Those who defile their or another’s marriage will be ostracized by others destroying their reputation; lose their wealth (ever hear of alimony?); ruin their health via STDs, perhaps even AIDS. Adultery and fornication is indeed a sin against one’s own body (1 Cor. 6:18). Many who grow old and look back with damaged emotions being wracked with guilt and regret. Still others may suffer from a ruined sex life because of their sins. Christians who defile or violate marriage are especially guilty before God. Because they have taken members of the body of Christ and made them members of a harlot (1 Co 6: 15-16). They have taken their bodies, temples of the Holy Spirit, and given them to children of the devil (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
Whether the fornicator is a Christian or not, they will all suffer eternal torment (Rev. 21:8). All are enemies of God for destroying that which He designed and ripping apart a marriage couple that He joined together.
Contentment With God’s Blessings
Contentment is not something you are born with it is something you learn. While imprisoned Paul learned contentment (Phil. 4:10-12). Fanny Crosby, a blind songwriter, wrote: “O What a happy soul am I! Although I cannot see, I am resolved that in this world Contented I will be; How many blessings I enjoy That other people don’t! To weep and sigh because I’m blind, I cannot, and I won’t.”
Helen Keller was blind, deaf, and mute, yet she wrote:
“They took away what should have been my eyes, (But I remembered Milton’s Paradise)
They took away what should have been my ears, (Beethoven came and wiped away my tears)
They took away what should have been my tongue, (But I talked with God when I was young)
He would not let them take away my soul, Possessing that, I still possess the whole.”
Contentment with God’s blessings comes by being satisfied. The English word “content” means “desiring no more than what one has.” First, realize that material things do not bring satisfaction. Solomon observed the inadequacy of material things (Eccl. 5:10). Material things do not meet the true needs of the soul (Eccl. 6:7). After all, consider how much we have today compared to others. Solomon in all his glory never had a flushing toilet. Julius Caesar never had a Sam’s Card. William Shakespeare never had a typewriter or even a ballpoint pen. With food and clothing we can be content (1 Tim. 6:8)
Contentment with God’s blessings comes by avoiding covetousness. The phrase “without covetousness” in verse five is actually a single Greek word, aphildrguros. It means “without love of silver or money.” Love for material goods never ends with one more thing. Someone asked millionaire Bernard Baruch, “How much money does it take for a rich man to be satisfied?” Baruch replied, “Just a million more than he has.” Achan’s love of money cost Israel a defeat at Ai and the lives of at least 36 of his fellow countrymen (Josh. 7:1,5,25). Judas’ greed led to the betrayal of the Son of God for a mere thirty pieces of silver. Ananias and Sapphira lost their lives over their covetousness (Acts 5: 1-10). Why do we sacrifice everything when we cannot take anything with us? Have you ever seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul? Jesus warned, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). We forget this warning every time we ask how much a person is worth, when we really mean how much he owns. Covetousness is the sin of idolatry (Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5). It will keep one out of the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
Contentment with God’s blessings comes by trusting God. The book of Hebrews quotes two great Old Testament passages (Josh.l:5; Ps.118:6). God has promised never to leave or forsake us. Trust in money is distrust in God. To trust in money is a distrust of God’s promises. God is saying that contentment is found in relationships, not in things. Contentment comes, then, when we trust God will provide what we need! God is teaching us confidence in Him.
Contentment with God’s blessings comes by not fearing. It is not easy to take “joyfully the spoiling of your goods” (Heb. 10:34). Loss of things or even freedom does not mean an abandonment by God. By having God we have all we need and all there is to have. With God and contentment we are indeed very wealthy. Paul wrote that “…godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6).
One final thought on contentment. James Mackintosh said “It is right to be contented with what we have, never with what we are.”
The book of Hebrews ends with encouragement for Christians to follow certain rules in their relationships. These five principles are: a continuing love for the brethren, considering hospitality to strangers, a compassionate concern for imprisoned Christians, a consecrated honor for marriage and contentment with God’s blessings. If we observe these we will be better citizens under a better covenant in God’s better kingdom.
– Daniel R. Vess