“He answered them, ‘What did Moses command you?’
They replied, ‘Moses allowed a man to write a bill of divorce and to put her away.’
But Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart [your condition of insensibility to the call of God] he wrote you this precept in your Law.’
But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave [behind] his father and his mother and be joined to his wife and cleave closely to her permanently, and the two shall become one flesh, so that they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has united (joined together), let not man separate or divide.”—Mark 10:3-9 (AMP)
“And so Adam, in that his speech to Eve, uttered his faith in the promise made to her of her seed, and so in that respect Adam himself came in under her covenant.”—Thomas Goodwin
“A covenant made with God should be regarded not as restrictive but as protective.”—Russell M. Nelson
First, let me say “thank you” to all of the married people who made the time to respond to my questions last week re: the blessings and challenges within their union. There is a method to my madness. Actually, as I was praying about why God asked me to do that and where he was wanted me to go next on those, one thing that the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) brought to mind is that the two people who spoke the most profoundly on marriage are Christ (Matthew 19) and Paul (I Corinthians 7); two single people. I Corinthians 7:32-34 (NKJV) says, “But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord-how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world-how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world-how she may please her husband.”
Now, I’m not totally sure what “without care” means to Paul. Personally, even as a single woman, I find myself “casting cares” (I Peter 5:6-7) on a pretty regular basis but I’m bringing this up, in this context, to say that I do find it fascinating that according to scripture (2 Timothy 3:16), an unmarried person can more easily care for the things of Lord than a married person can. MARRIAGE IS A THING OF THE LORD. It’s the first human service ministry introduced to mankind (Genesis 2:18-25). That said, if you are single, you still have a duty when it comes to marriage, whether you desire to be married someday or not. Most of us have seen the heartbreaking statistics on marital abuse (of all kinds) and divorce and yet some of us are so selfishly consumed with “when we’re gonna get ours” that we’re not using this time to pray, without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:16-17), for those who may not be able to invest as much spiritual time as they would like…or may even know to do. Sadly, there are a lot of people who are married but do not understand the value of covenant or the magnitude of the vows that they took TO GOD AND TO ONE ANOTHER; ones that God takes very seriously (Matthew 5:37). When the lead scripture says that what God has joined together, let no man separate, please believe he was speaking of the two making the promises…first.
James 5:16 says that the prayers of the righteous have power. How much prayer, singles, are you putting into the covenant couples that you know? How righteous is your life so that your prayers can be supernaturally effective? How much time do you devote to seeing what needs they may have? When was the last time you babysat their children and/or treated them to dinner and a movie? When do you recall cooking a dish so that they could spend more quality time or sacrificing the price of a weekend away so that they could spend a night alone at a local hotel? Marriage is a covenant between the Godhead, a husband and his wife, but for it to be a spiritual success, it’s the responsibility of us all.
A couple of days ago, I was talking to a married friend of mine in crisis. As we were discussing some of the struggles her husband was facing, I heard myself say, “Have you ever wondered why the Bible says that the two will become one flesh? It doesn’t say they will become spirit and flesh, but one flesh.”
My friends are used to me and my randomness. She paused and said, “No…can’t really say that I have”, but to be honest with you, that was sho ‘nuf a Holy Spirit moment because I hadn’t really, either. Oh, but once that lane opened up, I took it. One flesh. THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. Yes, I’m sure some people look at that strictly from the sexual perspective. Being that fornication and adultery are sins to our Lord (the King James Version calls fornicators “whoremongers”, by the way-Hebrews 13:4) and being that I Corinthians 6:16 speaks of the ability of man to become one with even a prostitute, I certainly agree that sex is the physical act that represents the spiritual bond between a husband and wife. But let’s go deeper.
I John 6:63 (NKJV) says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”
Romans 8:1-11 (NKJV) tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
2 Corinthians 7:1 (NKJV) states, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
I really want you catch Galatians 5:14-17 (NKJV): “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”
And finally, Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV), “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
We are flesh and spirit. Our goal in life is to become more like the Spirit and to surrender our flesh to its will. When Christ was on the earth, he said the first commandment we should follow is to love God (Spirit) with all that we are and the second is that we should love our neighbors (flesh) as ourselves; that there are no greater commands than these (Mark 12:29-31). THERE ARE NO GREATER COMMANDS THAN THESE. Our relationship with God should be our first priority as individuals. Having no god before God (Exodus 20:3) would include our spouse and perhaps that’s one reason why we’re not one spirit, per se. It would make perfect sense that because we came onto the scene as individuals, God would want a spirit-to-spirit relationship with each of us first and foremost. However, if you are a married person reading this, when it comes to the second commandment, your closest “neighbor” would be your spouse. Other than loving God with all of your soul, mind and strength, there is no greater service than to love them…as you do yourself.
Now, it’s a whole ‘nother message entirely to ponder on how many people in troubled marriages actually love themselves. After all, it’s hard to be patient and kind (I Corinthians 13:4) with someone else when you’re not that way with yourself. But what I really wanted us to reflect on is how weak the flesh tends to be and how powerful the spirit world is. The devil is a part of the spirit world; Ephesians 6:12 tells us that. Satan even had the ability to tempt (to entice or allure to do something often regarded as unwise, wrong, or immoral) Christ (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15). He did not succeed because Christ did not succumb, but we are not Christ. We are people who strive to be like Christ, which is all the more reason why we must make a daily concerted effort to surrender to the will of God. That said, I can’t help but to wonder, being that God knew the fall of man was eminent, if marriage was partially introduced to help us overcome sin. Christ was one with God (John 10:30). I’m sure that “oneness” is how Christ was able to withstand the darts of the Enemy. A husband is made one with his wife. COULD THAT NOT SERVE THE SAME ULTIMATE PURPOSE? Let’s check the scriptures:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”—Ephesians 4:9-12 (NKJV)
Do you know one of the reasons why I fight so hard for God’s original plan for marriage to remain in tact; for only a husband (man) and wife (woman) to be able to use the word “marriage”? Because in the beginning was the Word (John 1:1) and when God spoke the word, the concept of marriage into existence, it was for Adam and the Woman; the mandate was given to a male and female covenant couple that a man should leave his mother and father, be joined to his wife and two would become one flesh (Genesis 2:24-25). If you go one chapter back, it says that when the Godhead decided to make us in their image, MALE AND FEMALE, he made them (Genesis 1:26-27). There is a unique symmetry that a male and female martial bond bring to this earth. There is a consecrated, godly representation that takes place when a male and female become one. Knowing this, OF COURSE THE ENEMY WOULD ATTACK IT.
And he has been…aggressively. And a lot of us have been letting him…unfortunately.
In my prayer time last night and this morning, there was something that the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:12) brought to me that I hadn’t really thought about (in this way) before. Ephesians 4:9-12 says that two are better than one and that two can withstand being overpowered by another. Proverbs 27:17 tells us that a friend’s countenance is like iron sharpening iron. I Corinthians 7:4 says that the husband has authority (right to respect or acceptance of one’s word, command, thought, etc.) over the wife’s body AND the wife has authority over the husband’s body. I Corinthians 7:14 states that the unbelieving spouse is sanctified by the believing one and through that position, their children are not unclean, but holy. In the Message Version of Matthew 19:11-12, Christ advised that while a lot of people are not (spiritually) mature enough for marriage, even as a single man, he recommended that if you can grow into the largeness of marriage, you should do it.
Have you ever taken the time to think that when it comes to marriage, God made a point to state that we were one flesh as opposed to one spirit because he knew it would take the delicate balance of the husband and wife, the two different people with different strengths and weaknesses, bonded together, to fight the one spirit: Satan? That because both man and woman are made in the Godhead’s image that the husband would be able to fight the Enemy in ways that the wife could not and vice versa? That the two coming together as one flesh was God’s way of combating the Enemy in, perhaps, the most powerful way earthly possible (and perhaps that’s why Christ recommended that people do it)? Well, if you look at how much marriage is attacked and sex is abused/misused, I’ll bet all the money I’ve got and will make in the future that the Enemy has considered it…on a daily basis.
If you are married, there are certain “fight tools” that you bring to the spiritual warfare battlefield that your mate simply cannot. It’s kind of like the child of a single parent who says, “My mama is the mama and the daddy.” I just heard a variation of that fallacy today in one of my classes. A mom may be working harder than she should to go above and beyond because she’s doing it alone, but there is nothing in her genetic make-up that can cause her to be a father. Married people, you may be an excellent husband or wife, but you can’t do what the opposite sex partner does. The Bible says that the husband is the head of the wife (Ephesians 5:23) and that the wife brings favor to her husband (Proverbs 18:22). The husband may lead, but his wife grants him access, blessings, goodwill and unfair partiality in his leadership. They both bring something to the union that the other cannot…because God purposed it to be that way. One spouse may not be working as effectively as he/she should, but you have to remember that God honors covenant and in godly marriages, there is a three-cord bond; it is something that God, himself, THE SPIRIT, has joined together. As the King James Version of Mark 10:9 tells us, that is something that NO MAN should put asunder…disconnect…separate…tear. Why? Because more than anything, the two need one another; not just to live together…have children…have sex…but to fight the Enemy. Marriage is one of God’s ultimate warfare weapons.
Now do you see why God hates divorce and why he says that it covers one with a garment of violence (Malachi 2:16)? Yes, in extreme cases, there are provisions made for divorce, but God doesn’t say he hates it “unless”. God joined a man and woman together in marriage and the Word says that what God does, he does forever. Nothing should be added to it or taken from it (which is why I don’t support homosexual marriages) and he does it so that man will fear him (Ecclesiastes 3:14). The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10). Isaiah 33:6 assures us that wisdom and knowledge are to be the stability of our times and the strength of our salvation. If you’re married, this is the time to increase in your spiritual wisdom and knowledge re: the PURPOSE OF YOUR MARRIAGE so that you can be brought to a sense of stability; so that the salvation of both you and your partner can be strengthened. If you’re single, this is the time to take preventative measures to understand the WARFARE WEAPON known as marriage; to look beyond the wedding day and honeymoon into the potential of two souls coming together for the purpose of creating a haven of spiritual stability and a safe place for salvation to further develop. Becoming one flesh isn’t just about the pleasure that sex can bring, but the purpose that two people, united, both made in God’s image differently, can do when they are so close that they are spiritually one and so surrendered to the Spirit that the flesh cannot defeat it.
I don’t know about you, but it makes me respect marriage in an entirely different manner. For those I know that are married, I will definitely make it a point to cover them in prayer all the more and serve in any way that I am led to and can. As for me and my future union, the “wish list” has slightly shifted. Now I see why my mama wanted me with a man who loves the Lord. A married girlfriend of mine (shout out to Anastasia Nocentelli) told me last week that marriage is a benefit of becoming the person you are meant to be. I have grown when it comes to the kind of man, the quality of man, that I desire, but now…knowing this, because some things only come by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:20-21), I’m sure I will be spending some more time on my face so that I can become the proper “tool” to be merged with…so that when I do become one with “him”, I will bless him and not consume him; I will complement his weaknesses not overpower his strengths; I will bring favor to his leadership so that we can defeat the Enemy in the fear of the Lord.
One flesh, revisited, indeed.
©Shellie R. Warren/2009