Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Building the Home on Christ Alone (Part 2)

As I work on my blog for this past week's message, "Raising Children to Glorify God" I thought this video would pacify you with a humorous characterization of somebody I'm sure we've all met. The song is by Peter Denahy, who is an Australian Country artist; and although he's depicting an Aussie youth, I'm sure it could apply to American culture as well. It is my prayer that as you grow to love God with all your heart, soul and mind, you will avoid raising your kids to become part of the "Sorta'. . . Dunno'. . . Nothin" crowd.

In Deuteronomy 6:1-9, we find Moses speaking to the children of Israel towards the end of his life. You will notice that he is emphasizing the solemn responsibility of Jewish households in the Old Testament to diligently train their children up knowing and delighting in the Law of God. Read this passage and consider the weighty responsibility it lays upon us all as parents to teach our children the law of God:

“Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, 2 that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates"(Deuteronomy 6:1-9).

If this passage tells us anything it tells us that children are smart; they will never follow beliefs backed up by words alone, only by beliefs backed up by your life. You can say you believe the Bible all day long. But if you can scarcely remember where you placed the Bible last, while never having to search for the TV when Monday night football calls, it is proven to be more sacred by the priority you make for it.

God did not give us the Law as a bunch of words He just arbitrarily pulled out of the air. No! God is revealing what He loves and what He hates; He is laying open for us His heart and mind. Therfore, any parents who model these words cannot simply show half-hearted, flippint agreement to the Law of God; they must cherish the Law of God with heart-felt love and addiction. "You say that you believe in one God, you do well. The devils believe also, and tremble" (James 2:19). How can you apply these words to your own family's situation?

To be continued!

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Questions we Don't Want to Ask

This post is a follow-up to my last one and will culminate by answering the question, "What variables must line up for us to rightfully call ourselves "Christian?" In my last post, I assumed that while Bob Dylan may be nominally Christian, he is not "Christian" in the biblical definition. I hope that he'll prove me wrong in the end. Whatever the case, the more important question for all of us should be, "Am I a Christian?" I will give six tests from the Scriptures to help you answer that and promise that I myself have to constantly answer that same question.

Through the vissicitudes of life, the elements of time beat against our souls and our tastes and interests change. But we could never be freed from the sounds of our youth. Some music always resonates with us and sparks up nostalgia of days gone by. You're probably already hearing the music of your own days.

Probably no other almum hits closer to home for me than Marvin Gay's "What's Going On." This album revealed Marvin's political, philosophical side, which people hadn't seen much of until 1971 when it was released. As a kid I listened to everything from Country to Ol' Skook R&B, and will never forget thumbing through all my parent's old LP's, which defined their era. This got me acquainted with the Carpenter's, The Four Tops, B J Thomas, etc. But none of their music spoke to me like Marvin Gay's. I could listen to songs like "What's Going On" and "Make Me Wanna Holla'" all day while cleaning the house or just killing time. I even remember having friends over and playing it for them. Much to my chagrine, they just didn't get it.

There were a couple years where I quit listening to non-Christian music. But this attempt would be short-lived when I met Jermaine Fenwick during college. Jermaine came to know Christ after being involved with the Nation of Islam for some time. He and I became good friends and would talk, debate and pray together about every day. I found him grooving along one day to his walkman and asked what he was listening to. It was none other than Marvin Gay's song, "What's Happening Brother", from the greatest album ever. I was hooked all over again.

Ever since that fateful day on April 1, 1984, when Marvin was tragically shot by his own father, we have brainstormed about what this 44 year old crooner, who showed no signs of slowing down, could have produced. One of the questions that come up among R&B lovers like myself who also happen to be Christians, is whether or not Marvin was truly a believer. Even after reading Marvin's biography, "Trouble Man," I'm not even going to attempt to answer that question. I reverence his smooth, debonir personality far too much I guess you might say.

It would be easy to conclude that Marvin Gay was a Christian. He had a strong belief in God and even inculcated this belief in his music. One of his songs was entitled "God is Love." In this song, Marvin repeats the chorus "Oh don't go and talk about my father, God is my friend." Then background of Marvin's voice chimes in by singing: "Jesus is my friend." You will not find a more beautiful song anywhere that puts in perspective the need to confirm our love for God by exhibiting love toward our fellow man.

I have read enough to know without a doubt that artists like Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ron Isely (of the Isely Brothers) and Bob Dylan all have a strong belief in God as well. Steve Turner has written a great book describing the journey of countless artists in their spiritual quest for truth (Hungry for Heaven: Rock 'N' Roll & the Search for Redemption, 1995). As I said in my previous post, I am not in a place to judge anyone; it is only by the grace of God that I myself am not only judged, but condemned (Romans 5:15-21). Yet, Jesus told us: "you shall know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:20). These words in context were to help his disciples discern who was a sheep, and who was nothing more than a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Keith Green, who was a bluntly biblical Christian artist, once said, "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to McDonalds makes you a hamburger!" In other words, it is not enough to profess that we know Christ by going to church or standing up on stage and thanking Christ. We must not only profess Christ, but possess Christ.

Obviously, I profess to know Christ. But I must always ask myself, "do I really possess Christ?" If you read this blog and then see me cussing somebody out after giving them the double-gun (two birds) salute in traffic, you would probably say that I'm not a sheep at all, only a wolf in sheep's clothing. When Jesus says that "you will know them by their fruits" He is telling us that we can know whether or not we, and those around us are believers based on the fruit revealed in the way that we live.

Having an assurance that you are safe in the arms of God as a Christian cannot be based solely on the fact that we prayed a prayer, or were baptized, or go to church every week. However, the Bible gives us several tests we must first apply to our lives to determine whether there is evidence of God’s grace there. Paul goes so far as to command us to “test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves” (II Corinthians 13:5). Here are six tests straight from the Scriptures you can start with. As our lives line up to the following six tests that we can gain the hope and assurance of salvation. But remember, following these tests could never get anyone saved. Rather, these tests give evidence that you have already been radically changed by God himself:

1. Do you love the Lord Jesus Christ?

Paul prays, “If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be accursed. Maranatha” (I Corinthians 16:22). These are politically incorrect words if there ever was such. But to fulfill the first and greatest commandment, which is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37) our hearts must be solely devoted to Him.

St. Augustine described this love well when he wrote, “He loves Thee too little who loves anything together with Thee, which he loves not for Thy sake.” Everything in our lives should exist for His glory; and every activity done should be done out of love for Him.

This first test may sound simple, but it is actually the only test. The other five tests determine whether we pass this first one, or whether we’re fooling ourselves when we sing, “I love you, Lord.”

2. Are you actively guarding your soul from sin and the world?

The Apostle Paul humbly acknowledges that he himself could apostatize and prove himself to become a hypocrite if he was not diligent in guarding his heart from being drawn away with the world. “But I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” (I Corinthians 9:27).

First John tells us plainly, “Do not love the world, nor the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15). Guard your heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23), because to gain the world is to forfeit your claim to God. Too many professing Christians are in love with this world. They love endulging "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." John tells us that we cannot love this world which is at war with God and yet profess to love God (read also, Colossians 1:20-21, James 4:4).

3. Are you free from habitual sin?

I John 3:9 tells us that “no one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” I John teaches that as Christians, we will sin at times, and that “If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1). We can confess our sins and know that He is faithful and just to forgive us (I John 1:9). As Christians, we never get beyond a place of brokenness and repentance until we see Jesus face to face (i.e., Psalm 34:18, 51:16-17).

However, it is clear that if a Christian remains in habitual sin, and is not convicted and remorseful, his faith is vain. Just consider the black and white clarity with which John distinguishes those who are true believers from those who are lying hypocrites, "The one who says, 'I have come to know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected" (I John 2:4-5).

4. Are you convicted when you sin?

As said previously, Christians are not perfect, and there are times that we succumb to our old nature and fall flat on our faces. The difference between a believer and one who is lost is in how they respond to sin. A believer possesses the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and will inevitably be convicted with guilt when he sins. Hebrews tells us that just as earthly fathers discipline their children, the Holy Spirit will discipline us when we sin. “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives . . . But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons” (Hebrews 12:6, 8).

5. Do you love your neighbor as yourself?

Our world is becoming more decadent and distant from God; one of the most obvious indicators of this godlessness is that the love of many in our culture has grown cold (Matthew 24:12). The murder of unwanted children is commonplace as over 48 million abortions have been performed in the US alone since Roe vs. Wade. This type of disregard for human life out of convenience should cause our society to be repulsed. But instead, our society is only becoming more callus as we are now considering seriously the legality of euthanizing grown adults that are unwanted or disabled.

Christians, however, have a strong warrant to believe that every human life has dignity and is worthy of respect. We believe that man is created in the image of God. I John goes so far as to say that if we do not love our brother, we cannot call ourselves Christians, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (I John 4:7-8). Also, “anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (I John 3:10).

It is not enough just to say we love our neighbor; John tells us that if this love is not evidenced by offering aid to those who are in need, then what we call love isn’t love at all, and our faith should be called into question. “But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him” (I John 3:17).

6. Are you persevering?

There are many passages in the New Testament that warn us of false faith that fizzles before the finish. Mark my words, this kind of fickle faith isn’t faith from the first. I John tells us that if someone claims to be a believer, and yet falls away, their faith was false to begin with, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us” (I John 2:18-19).

God’s grace never fails. If what we possess is genuine, it will persevere until the very end. This is why Paul can speak with confidence to the Philippians, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Your assurance should grow day by day as you continue by God’s grace to persevere. Hebrews tells us that our full assurance will culminate in the end, when we have remained faithful to our Lord, “For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end” (Hebrews 3:14).

An occasional, "I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" is cool. I'll be shouting with joy anytime a musician on the tube mentions the name "Jesus", especially in a PC culture where it been practically banned.

But sorry, this glib reference to "Jesus" is not evidence of true faith. If Jesus, who's entire message on this earth was "repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17) lives inside you, then your own message to a dying world must be just as urgent. If God’s Spirit has made its residence in your life, then you will persevere until the end because it is no longer you who lives, but Christ Himself who lives in you (Galatians 2:20).

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Fast Train a' Comin'

On August 20, 1979, Bob Dylan caused listeners shock by recording one of several albums that seemed to indicate he had become a Christian. People were asking, "How could such an enigmatic guru accept such a simple-minded message?" Listening to Bob Dylan there can be no doubt that he is a poetic genius, and nobody aside from God can ultimately judge what's going on in his heart.

However, his seemingly short-lived faith is much like the faith so common in the church today. It is a faith often more tailored to fit record sales than a clear description of the Gospel. One of the songs on Dylan's album was "Slow Train Coming." It is sad that Dylan's "Slow Train Coming" never quite made it to the terminal. Nonetheless, know that Christ is building His church and Christianity is spreading like a fast train a' comin' in many parts of the world according to the recent Voice of the Martyrs Magazine.

I felt like shouting when reading about one wide-eyed Christian musician named Hazim. You might say that Hazim is riding that train literally. He regularly shares the Gospel by strumming his six-string guitar aboard a commuter train in Algeria. That's right . . . Algeria! When I read this I have to admit that I hung my head in shame. I wouldn't have the boldness to get on a train in America, much less a train in the fascist Islamic state of Algeria, to start strumming loud Christian hymns in earshot of every passenger on board.

This Muslim run country has been agressively attacking the presence of Christ for years. According to Voice of the Martyrs, seven house churches have been shut down in recent months and three pastors are now toiling by the sweat of their brows in labor camps. Their crime . . . worshiping Jesus. Undaunted, and staring persecution dead in the face, this believer is sharing the gospel by singing Christian hymns to Muslim passengers, who you might say are his captive audience. He says that if they notice the Christian lyrics and ask him to stop singing, he simply puts down his guitar and commences to tell them the good news of Jesus Christ.

Ironically, many artists in the US is faced with falling record sales due to his unsophistocated faith . . . faith that fizzles fast. When Hazim, on the other hand, faced with imprisonment and possibly death, continues to sing to the glory of God. Hazim may not recieve the praise of a Bob Dylan in in the US. But in God's eyes, I would imagine that Bob Dylan wouldn't be worthy of performing his opening act. But in case you don't quite agre, let's look at what what classifies as music to Christ's ears: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Matthew 5:11-12).

What kind of impact does Hazim's boldness have in the radical Islamic state he finds himself engulfed in? In recent years, we are told by Joel Rosenberg, in his book, Epicenter, that more than 80,000 Muslims have come to know Christ. In Russia alone, more than a million Muslims have come to know Christ in just the past year. In Turkey, 35,000. In France, 10,000; and India, 10,000. Even in France and Russia, these new believers will certainly be targeted as blasphemers and infidels by their own parents because the Muslim population of these countries is predominately unassimilated. Many pundits, such as Mark Steyn, have even told us that the Muslims of Europe are beginning to seem more militant than the ones found in the Arabian Peninsula where it all began.

Pray that God will wake us up as a church (Romans 13:11-13). Pray that He will arouse us from the pleasure persuing pipe-dream that has made us so impotent in the face of a dying country. If we had the boldness that God has bequethed upon our dear brother Hazim, we would certainly be persecuted, but mark my word, the Gospel would be paid attention to. It would be received so much more seriously than it currently is. The world does not need cool, retro looking "Christian" musicians who can strum an enigmatic tune that is arguably more influenced by the Dalai Lama than by Jesus Christ. The world needs the truth; the raw truth.

Jesus said in Mark 8:38, "For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." Shame on us in allowing the sword of the Spirit to be sheathed by the shameful desire to subvert the gospel into something that is cool.

True, it is not cool to be called "socially irrelevant" and "politically incorrect." But neither is it cool to be lynched, killed and dumped into the Nile River by your own drill seargent because you refuse to be cool in the eyes of your fellow soldiers. What might I be speaking about?

Hani was a young Egyption, Coptic Christian, who loved Jesus with all his heart. While serving his mandatory stint in the military, Hani shared the gospel in the boldest way possible. He shared it by being killed as a martyr for refusing to renounce Christ and become a Muslim. Hani suffered importunately and was often interrogated, until finally he was killed at the hands of his own comrads. After being brutally beaten he was dumped in the Nile in an attempt to make his death look like a simple drowning incident. Maybe if Hani had downplayed it a little bit; kept it on the downlow, he would have been accepted . . . cool . . . relevant. Thank God he was more in love with Christ than he was with himself.

Hani's story broke my heart because of the great injustice perpetrated against this young Christian. But my heart breaks more for the condition of my own heart and for the condition of a church that is increasingly more concerned about "cool" issues like global warming than they are the global damnation that awaits a Christ-rejecting world.

Christian musicians and pastors alike must reject the seemingly ubiquitous desire to be a primadonna; the desire to be accepted like a rock-star. Christ told us to be greatly surprised if we were even accepted, much less idolized by swooning fans.

If there is anything I am certain of concerning the state of the church in America, it is the words of Peter: "For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And if the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner? Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good" (I Peter 4:17-19).

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Building the Home on Christ Alone (Part 1)

There is no institution that is more attacked and misunderstood today than the family, and yet there is no institution that is more vital for the survival of our civilization. It is no wonder that every time you see someone baptized in the book of Acts, we are told that they were baptized with their entire households; except in the case of the Ethiopian eunech, who, for obvious reasons couldn't have a family. This is one of many indications we have in the Bible that the families these early Christians came from had a much greater loyalty to one another and a much greater influence on one another than any family seems to have today in the United States. Think about this for a moment. I remember talking to my wife's grandfather, who comes from a strong Dutch Reformed, Christian background. I am always amazed to hear him share experiences he had growing up in the Thirties. What really strikes me was the fact that his family formed his beliefs about practically everything. Whereas today, most youth are more influenced by the surrounding pagan culture than by anything their Christian parents have to say. If mom or dad sit down to have "the talk", or as we usually call it, "the birds and the bees talk", they're surprised when their kid responds with, "tell me something I don't know." Either parents are asleep, or a godless culture is beating them to the punch. In our grandparent's generation this was not the case. The nuclear family taught them virtually everything they knew about life without the interference of a fallen culture, much less a culture that has declared war on the home. If Christian parents do not take up the responsibility to be the number one influence shaping what their children believe, I can almost promise that our civilization will be lost. The declining life expectancy of our children, which the AMA has already predicted will be only one symptom of a world gone mad.

This series looks at God's blueprint for the home revealed in the Bible and will cover five areas. First, Marriage as God's own invention. Second, raising children to glorify God. Third, His responsibilities. Fourth, Her Responsibilities. Fifth, we will look at the Bible's wisdom in the area of finances and home economics (nothing to do with the elective you took in high school).

Today, I'm dealing with marriage as God's own invention. John Piper has said, "The chasm between the biblical vision of marriage and the human vision is, and has always been gargantuan . . . our own sin and selfishness and cultural bondage makes it almost impossible to feel the wonder of God’s purpose for marriage between a man and a woman." In this first session then, we are examining God's view of marriage. I think you are going to find that when we look at the biblical blueprint, it will prove to be radically different from how even church members have viewed it:

God is the architect:
Here are some questions that I think are important to ask in proving that Marriage is something God ordained, and therefore, must be viewed with the greatest reverence:

1. Was it Adam or God that determined it was not good for him to be alone? (Gen. 2:18) It was the Lord that created Adam (2:7). It was the Lord that placed him in the garden (2:15). And it was the Lord that decided that Adam should not be alone (2:18-22). This is key because it reminds us that God's intention is not for a man to be alone, but to share life with a life-long mate. Although there are times when God calls someone to life-long celibacy, as in the case of the Apostle Paul, that is the exception, not the rule. Anybody can be celibate, but God alone can make a marriage work the way He intended it to work.

2. Who was the first father to ever give away a bride in marriage? (Gen. 2:21-22)God: “And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man" (2:22). Notice how delighted God is in his creation of woman. He is the one who presents Eve unto Adam as His very own creation. Any time a husband mistreats his wife or severs himself from her, he is saying, "God, what you made is not good enough."

3. Who first came up with this idea that a man and woman would become “one flesh”? (Genesis 2:24). In Matthew 19:3-7, The Pharisees asked Jesus: "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, for this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." Notice here that God made them "male and female" for the purpose of this "one flesh" union. In other words, the very fact that you have a gender points to the fact that you were not created to live for your self and your own lusts; you were made for the one God has ordained for you, and therefore your life isn't first about you.

Jesus is telling us plainly that marriage is a covenant that is not to be broken. The number of marriages in the US during 2006 was 2,230,000 (US Dept. of Health & Human Services) The marriage rate was 7.5 per 1,000 total population. However, the divorce rate was 3.6 per 1,000 population. This represents almost half of all marriages (46 reporting States and D.C.). There can be no doubt that our societies' view of marriage does not live up to God's original design.

4. Who is it that performs this “one flesh” union? (Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:6, Eph. 5:31) Notice that twice Jesus says: “they twain (two) shall be one flesh." We know from the passage in Matthew 19 that God performs this "one flesh" union, indicating bodly that he hates divorce. There are cases in which the Bible allows for divorce in the case of adultery and abandonment (see I Corinthians 7:10-16), but Jesus and Paul are explicit in telling us that divorce should always be the last option even in these cases. Christ accepted us when we were unacceptable, we too should exhibit the same love.

Christ & the Church was God's Inspiration:
5. What is marriage patterned after in the Bible? Paul says in Eph. 5:31-32, "This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."The context of this passage all the back at verse 22 is the marriage relationship. Paul is telling us here that a husband's love for his wife is suppose to be patterned after Christ's love for the church. Can you imagine the burden of responsibility this lays upon the shoulders of any husband? We as husbands must walk in the Spirit, and in the power of the Spirit if we ever hope to live up to this pattern, knowing that Christ's love was an unselfish love. Christ's love led him to lay down his life for us, and we are to lay down our lives for our wives by living for our wives, and putting their interests above our own (Eph. 2:25-27, Phi. 2:1-5).

6. How could Adam & Eve be naked and not ashamed? (Gen. 2:25)

A. There was no shame in nakedness because there was no human flaws. God himself declared that that his creation was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). Imagine life before the Fall; there was no aging, no atrophy, no zits, sunspots, liver marks or disease. The human body was in its original, perfect state, leaving the man and the woman to be naked and not ashamed.

B. There was no shame because love covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8, I Cor. 13:5). The second reason that Adam & Eve was naked and not ashamed is more much more important than the first because you can in fact be perfect and yet still be rejected by your spouse. Think about this. God was perfect; there was no flaw in Him, and yet Eve still rejected God and his law to write her own self-law. Would she not also in time, reject Adam if his will ever crossed her will? The reason why they were naked and not ashamed is that love covers a multitude of sins. Because Eve was
perfect, Adam would have no need to be ashamed even if he were impefect. This is because Eve would always put his needs above her own, and always accept him regardless of whether he remained handsome, or whether he waxed old; whether he was himself faithful, or unfaithful.

7. What brought about the need for a covering? (Read Gen. 3:7-10-11)

A. Adam & Eve were no longer trustworthy. As soon as Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, she declared that she would now put herself first, God and everything else, second. Adam knows this and says in his heart, "she's put God down; she’ll be likely to put me down in order to build herself up." This unfaithfulness to God will breed unfaithfulness to everyone else that no longer agrees with her own self-law, regardless of how perfect or imperfect they are. Remember, when you drive a wedge between you and God, you drive a wedge between you and every other human alive. If she has declared that she is not faithful to God, she may not be faithful to me. This is why 2nd. Marriages so often don’t work. The affections are inevitably split.
B. The second reason Adam needs a covering is that no longer is Eve not trustworthy. He has to confess, "I am no longer trustworthy." Even if Eve were the most faithful person in the world, Adam would still be ashamed because he is proven unfathful. This is true for all of us.

We can be easily hurt by those we love the most. But whether or not those around us are trustworthy or not isn't the deciding factor in whether we remain trustworthy. The fact is, we are all untrustworthy based on our own sin. The light of truth exposes the ugliness of our sin even as the holy voice of God exposed the ugliness of Adam's sin. For this reason, we need a covering. The innocence of nakedness does not jive with the guiltiness that comes from sin and a defiled conscience. Their vain attempts to cover themselves was the first example of hypocrisy. John Piper says it was also the world's first snow-job.

8. Why clothes?

Clothes are not meant to make people think of what is under them. I Timothy 2:9 tells us to stay modestly clothed, not to draw attention to the flesh, but to deflect attention onto God. Clothes are meant to make people think of what’s not under them. Diligent hands ready to serve others rather than self. Beautiful feet that carry the Gospel of peace. A shining face that glows with joy unspeakable because we've met with God.

9. How should your marriage look like Christ and the Church?

A. Remember, Christ loved us when we were unlovable sinners. Therefore, we are called to love our spouse even when they seem unlovable (Eph. 5:25). He accepts us based on grace, not works. We too, should accept our spouse with the same grace. This does not mean that we overlook their sins. It means that we call them to repentance, all the while willing to forgive them of their sins and accept them as Christ accepts us (Deuteronomy 7:6-7, Ephesians 2:7-8).

B. Christ is reshaping us into the perfect bride. We too ought to influence our spouse through our own imitation of Christ to become more like Christ(Eph. 5:26-27). This means that we will show them Christ not just with words, but with a life that backs them up.

C. We should be Christ to our spouse by esteeming them as better than ourselves and by putting their needs above our own (read Phi. 2:1-5). We are to love them as we love our own flesh (Eph. 5:30). We are called to exhibit a love that only Christ can enable us to have because we are called to love them as Christ loved the church. Remember that if we are not loving our wives as Christ loved the church, then we are portraying a false image of Christ to the world. It is no wonder that the world does not know Christ when so many husbands have no clue that their responsibility is to be a model Christ. Let us press into God's kingdom with a holy violence that we may receive grace to live up to this solemn calling He has placed upon us.

Next week, we will pick up with part two of Building the Home on Christ Alone, which will deal with the Bible's prescriptions on how to raise up children to glorify God.