Biblical Marriage: Have we settled for something less?

I can tell you this, what I am about to say isn’t popular; it doesn’t even occur to many in relationships because of its apparent impossibility, but hear me out.
I want to dive into what biblical love is, and how that is supposed to function in marriage.

If the words of God are truly the authority in our lives, then they should dictate the standard for Christian marriage.

If we truly delighted in God’s command not to conform to the pattern of the world, and to walk by the Spirit, wouldn’t we hunger to be more like Christ in all aspects of our life, instead of settling for the minimum? I would argue that many Christians today have not fully grasped what their God is capable of doing in their lives. There are many faucets of God’s working power in the Christian life, but I want to re-examine the Christian marriage and truly go after God’s intent for it.
In the beginning, God created all the heavens and earth and he finished with creating humanity. He even created them uniquely from the rest; they both bore his image and were placed in a special relationship with him. Human relationship was also special in the garden of Eden; it was harmonious and good and involved two individuals that sought to accomplish God’s decree to subdue the earth together. This changed though when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, sacrificing what was sustaining their harmony.

They surrendered their potential to love one another fully because they had believed a lie that God was withholding a better thing from them.

They rejected the Author of love and embraced an obedience to the father of lies. Into the world entered sin and what immediately came was broken relationship. Eve’s desire would be for her husband, but her husband would rule over her, in a way that opposed what God had created “very good.” This propelled humanity away from the beginning when God was near and love was natural. A lie told humanity that they ought to walk in a different way than God designed, in a way that opposed life and embraced death. It would take a new way, filled with truth and life; it would take Jesus to restore what was lost.
The good news is that Jesus’ work is finished. Sin has been defeated, truth has been revealed, and Jesus is leading his children to follow after a new way. Sin has become powerless to the one in Christ and the way of love has been revealed. The call for Christians now is not to incorporate Jesus into their workplace, their hobbies, or their marriages, but to give him every piece. The world sets a standard of a marriage that is in bondage to sin and disunity. But Christ has finished his work and offers freedom to captives. He also demonstrates both how he loves his bride, and how his bride ought to love the One who they’ve been betrothed to. What then for Christian marriages? What does Christ’s life, death and resurrection change from the pattern Adam and Eve set for the rest of humanity? Everything.
Biblical marriage is not a man being completed by his wife. It’s not a wife needing his husband to be okay. It’s not finding one’s purpose in another.

Marriage is a covenant between a man and woman founded on the love of Christ.

Yes, a wife or a husband is a gift from God whom should be enjoyed, but if marriage isn’t eternal we must begin to ask ourselves what eternal significance God might intend for us in marriage. They should never be at the cost of glorifying God. If a Christian’s chief end is to enjoy God and glorify him in doing so, then marriage can never primarily be about sustaining a feeling of happiness, but about representing and enjoying Christ. Like I implied before, God is a good father who gives good gifts which are to be pleasurable in this life, but the gift is never greater than the gift Giver. Here’s how good God is: When you healthily pursue representing Christ well, your marriage will inevitably be better. This is because Christ is the best lover, and when we primarily desire him, we get to better enjoy his gifts the way they were designed to function. This includes marriage.
The way to a Christ-like marriage though is often hindered because Christians have traded a biblical picture of love for a worldly one. The world says when two people come together that harmony cannot be sustained and that fighting is inevitable. In the world, marital intimacy is automatically accompanied with fleshly tendencies.

Intimacy was designed to accompany holiness, not oppose it.

Let me make a quick distinction, I do not believe conflict is bad, because naturally two individuals who are different and have differing opinions will experience much conflict. But, I do believe that any attitude of bitterness, offense, unrighteous anger, or annoyance toward a spouse is one in which God calls us to die to. This doesn’t mean we can’t rejoice in the good things God has produced out of our bitterness. It just means we ought not to allow the sin even when It can be used for good. When we proclaim that these attitudes are normal and inevitable for a marriage, we are agreeing with the world’s definition of marriage and subconsciously choosing to diminish the truth of God. The truth is that biblical love leaves no space for these attitudes and actually associates them with the flesh. I am in no way saying that anyone who has experienced or experiences these attitudes is to be condemned, or even that one ought to consider their marriage ungodly if these exist; but I am saying that agreeing that these are normal for the Christian marriage opposes the truth of God. The truth of God is what sets people free, why don’t we go after it instead of letting experience dictate the potential of our marriage? All I’m after is to break down the walls of marital possibility so that God is more greatly glorified, his people are more greatly edified, and his gifts more greatly enjoyed.

The power of God has more to say about a couple’s marital potential than the world ever could.
So what is God’s intent for marriage? God made it simple. He gave two commandments that still take precedent in marriage. We are to love God with everything and our neighbor as ourselves. What is this love though? Scripture says it’s patient, kind; it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude; it does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things (1 Cor. 13). So love looks like something. Paul describes it in understandable terms, but why have we still painted a different picture for our marriages? I would be a fool to say I walk out this love perfectly all the time, but I would also be a wrong to say that Christ hasn’t worked in me to exemplify it many times. What if this simple passage became not just a marital theory to be dreamed of, but a standard for the Christian marriage?

God has not called husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church without giving them the power to do so. In the same way, wives are not called to love their husbands with submission and without power.

I am not against any of the following practices (I have received marital counseling with my fiancé), but marital power doesn’t come from individual strength, counseling, mentoring, etc. It comes from Jesus, from Christ in us who is our hope. I believe that when we normalize a worldly pattern of marriage we are opposing God’s empowerment by the Holy Spirit. 
The way back to God’s original intent for marriage isn’t a checklist of pious acts, a decision to try harder, or heeding of one’s own strength; it is by the grace of God, in the power of God, for the glory of God.

God is a mountain mover, he’s not bound by the normal physicality of the world. He has a hatred for sin and a love for righteousness. He authors truth and dismantles lies. His work for humanity is simple, it is to believe in Christ and his Word. The truth about love has been revealed in Christ. God dwells in and empowers his children to be like him, living out his truth. The question is will you define your life by a worldly love, or a heavenly one? Will you let his truth set you free beyond the limitations you’ve set for your own life? Let us and all others who choose to marry found our marriages on Christ and see where it takes us. Let us have faith and grow until Christ comes again. Let us continually hunger to be like Christ and love our spouse with his love.

Who is my Brother or Sister? 

The body of Christ is a necessary topic in today’s modern Christian culture. There is so much division it hardly seems unified at times. Whether it’d be denominational or cultural differences, many times the church would rather proclaim “heresy” over non-salvific issues than edify one another. I am surely not calling for a watering-down or abandonment of truth, but what would it look like if our primary goal was to love instead of attempting to justify our correctness over someone else’s wrongness?

Today, I was reminded of an important simple truth: any fellow believer who I may or may not have any history with is automatically my sister or brother, because all are unified in Christ. 

Today I met a girl on a plane ride back home for Christmas break. We had come from the same college back to our hometowns for the holidays. After talking a while about our faith and sharing short testimonies, the plane was about to take off. She looked to her group of friends that was sitting by us and introduced me with my name and the identity of a “fellow brother in Christ.” 

This was such a simple phrase, I’d heard it before, but this time God would not have me miss his point. At that moment God showed me through another individual that unity doesn’t come from agreeing on every interpretation of every verse; it comes from your perspective of Christ-like love,  which she had. Family in the body of Christ has so much more to do with faith than bloodline (although I truly love my biological family). At this point the phrase I had heard too often became a reality. 

Jesus knew this as well :

“While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him.  But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Mat. 12:46-50).

Sometimes I feel as though we as Christians still mimick the world which sets its own standards for relationships. Typically friends aren’t on the intimate level of “brother” or “sister” until they have gone through much together and have fostered the relationship for some time.

Contrarily, when you come into the kingdom of God, family is all there is. Of course we still should have close friends and other friends which we don’t spend much time with (we are not infinite). But in Christ we ought not to forget that even the stranger who believes in the Messiah is a brother or sister to us.

Let us take this perspective and see breakthrough in unity as a church! Jesus may your revival come. 

Where Does My Joy Come From?

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete (John 15:9-11).

May we begin to understand the joy of the Lord Jesus and may we realize that he has spoken so that we may walk in it in completeness.

The nature of humanity is often quite different from our modern use of the word “nature.” We often speak of an inability to harness certain actions because those actions fit in what we would consider our “nature” and that of our world’s, whether pleasing to us or not. We go as far as to name the actions themselves “natural” regardless of the vessel who commits them. Whether a Christian or an Atheist insults a man for his disrespectful action, the insult is often normalized with both the Atheist and Christian failing to consider their worldviews. This is because the offense committed “naturally” demands an angry response. Offense is exalted which justifies thoughts of a response that is barren of love.

It is this way of thinking which wars against the receiving of the joy of the Lord.

We weren’t created to cultivate thoughts that exist in opposition to the nature of God. It isn’t our current humanness that necessitates this character, for Jesus demonstrated the character of the perfect human to write us a new identity in his likeness. It is instead our very departure from belief in God where thoughts plagued by sin begin, grow, and are sustained. But the good news is that in him is light and no darkness and through Jesus,  he chose to make his home inside of those that believe, that he may change everything, including what we would consider “natural.”

What if we awoke in the morning and the first thoughts that came to our minds weren’t how tired we are, how much comfort our bed provides us, or how we’re going to accomplish the countless tasks for the day, but instead were thoughts of rejoicing in thankfulness for the love, peace, and joy of the Lord accompanied by a declaration of: “Lord use me to glorify you today!”

For many of us, those negative thoughts have become the norm and instead of understanding our new nature, we allow the old self to take precedent not because we enjoy thoughts of tiredness, but because we haven’t understood the power of God to rewire even our natural responses to morning trials. To this I say, joy changes everything.

How can we get to that place of experiencing the joy Jesus had? How can we healthily desire joy but not fill it with the incomplete, temporal joy of the world? How can we not let our experience dictate the possibility of receiving an every-day joy that comes from identity?

I believe the answer is in understanding that the love of God demonstrated in the gospel necessitates a response of repentance (Rom. 2:4) and positions us to receive Jesus’ joy. When we are in a lifestyle of repentance, we are guided by the Spirit of God, we have abandoned sin, allowed Jesus to cleanse us from it all, and have put on the new self, clothed in righteousness, exercising the same mind Jesus used to sustain joy. He was never in jeopardy of losing his joy because his identity was solidified by his Father. He has now invited us to be like him.

Jesus was able to walk through the trials and sufferings of life because of the joy set before him. He saw it and no worldly consequence could take it from his eyes.

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Joy is a wonderful gift from God. I am not exhorting you to take your eyes off God and onto your problem of a lack of joy. I am exhorting you to look at the one who offered to give his joy, Jesus. Know that he is willing. In receiving this, we do not boast that we have it, but we boast in its author, Jesus, to exalt his goodness. May we all experience the joy of the Lord and earnestly have faith in a new identity that sustains it.



You Are Not Bound to Anxiety or Depression: There is Freedom in Christ

What if I told you that you weren’t created to live in anxiety and depression? What if I told you that Jesus has made a way for you to be free from that and he’s calling you to join in on that freedom today? Would you believe it? Or does your life’s experience make that sound like an unattainable fairytale. 

 The weight of life is heavy and its vision is often dark. When we fail to “feel” Jesus, we often assume that he isn’t there, or that we have done something wrong to dispel him from ourselves. What if I told you that the key to unlocking freedom from depression and anxiety has nothing to do with feelings at all? The world today is all about feelings, walking in the way that seems right, chasing after a pleasure which was meant to be filled by God. Why would we want to walk in the same way the world does, when we are called to walk differently (Rom. 12:2)? We aren’t called to live by feelings, but by faith. 

Now some of you might say “Brennan, are you saying that I have to go through life denying my feelings living in a lie that says I’m okay when I feel broken?” My answer to that would be: By no means! What I am saying is that it is not a reversal of feelings that brings freedom, but an understanding of truth. It was Jesus who said “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). This is the beginning of freedom, understanding that not any truth, but knowing that Jesus who is the way and the truth and the life (John 14:6) is the ONLY means to freedom. Without him we remain slaves to sin, reaping the effects of depression and anxiety with no escape. 

Are you to blame for your depression and anxiety? I don’t think so. Many hold blame on themselves even though God says we who are in Christ have no more condemnation (Romans 8:1).  But if it’s not a human fault,  others then revert to blame a God who “has abandoned them” not realizing that the God of the Bible never forsakes his children. If God created you in his image, wouldn’t that mean God intended you to think like him as well? I think this is true, and precisely why Paul in the Bible says “we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). Those that have called upon the name of the Lord to be saved, have full access to not just his thoughts, but his thought process as well. We aren’t just to flood our brains with his truth temporarily, but to actually reason and develop thoughts throughout our life as he does. 

Humanity chose to disobey God in the beginning, resulting in a fallen world, and experience that is less than the original design of God. Understanding this is vital to understanding the new identity given in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). If you think your brain is to be mended and “fixed” to think properly, then you may just be attempting to accomplish what no one in the Old Testament could. They could not “cure” their fallen state by trying to hold to God’s law; they all fell short (Rom. 3:23). What if instead the key was understanding the TRUTH about your new identity; that you have been given the mind of Christ and have been called to partake in his divine nature?

Now I understand that’s easier to say than to accomplish and I agree. But wasn’t it already finished when Jesus died on the cross for our salvation, which is not just a ticket to haven, but a transformed self, with a new mind and heart to know God? Why do I still feel like this if it’s already finished you might ask? Maybe you’ve been deceived by the world and by Satan, to think that God is not powerful enough to restore your brokenness. Hear me clearly, I am not condemning you, but I know that God is good, and his will is to heal and restore brokenness, and to destroy the works of the devil. That being said, he has invited us to have faith, believe in his truth and be saved, without working to do righteousness, but to simply be it.

You may still ask, how do I grow in faith to understand my new identity? Romans 10:17 says that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ”. The response is simple, read the Word of God, surrender the old self which we were NEVER created for (the old self filled of depression and anxiety) and RECEIVE the new self that is freely given by Jesus. Will this happen overnight? Maybe. Will it take time to grow in faith and belief in the word? Maybe. In either case, the emptiness of surrendering the old self has to be filled with the truth of God. Repent (turn away from sin and a corrupted self and to God), and embrace the new life lived in the Kingdom of God which is far better than anything the world has to offer, and incorruptible by the world. Just reading these words about the nature of Jesus will begin to stir the seeds others have sown into your life which God will grow into such beauty. In all things know that GOD IS GOOD.

 If you do not know God and you want to, just know that he receives all that come to him in need. There is a cost, but it involves giving up the self we weren’t created for, and surrendering all of our new self to him. I can promise you, in this new life is joy, peace, and purpose like never before. Trials and suffering still come to anyone who lives in this world, even Christians, but what an honor it is to walk through trials and sufferings not in despair, but in joy with the hope of Christ living in side of me. Those who choose this new life are made new and have become:

Alive with him (Ephesians 2:5), free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2), far from oppression and fear (Isaiah 54:14), born of God whom the evil one cannot touch (1 John 5:18), holy and without blame in his love (Ephesians 1:4, 1 Peter 1:16), God’s child born in an incorruptible seed of the Word of God, living and abiding forever (1 Peter 1:23), God’s workmanship, created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10), a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), a believer in which the light of the Gospel shines through the mind (2 Corinthians 4:4), a doer of the Word who’s actions are blessed (James 1:22, 25), a joint heir with Christ (Romans 8:17), more than a conqueror through Christ who loves (Romans 8:37), an overcomer by the blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony (Revelation 12:11), a partaker of his divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4), an ambassador of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people (1 Peter 2:9), the righteousness of God in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21), the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), his elect, full of mercy, kindness, humility and longsuffering (Romans 8:33, Colossians 3:12), forgiven of all sins and washed in the blood of Jesus (Ephesians 1:7), redeemed from the curse of sin, sickness, and poverty (Deuteronomy 28:15-68, Galatians 3:13), called of God to be the voice of his praise (Psalm 66:8, Timothy 1:9), healed by the stripes of Jesus (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24), raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6, Colossians 2:12), greatly loved by God (Romans 1:7, Ephesians 2:4, Colossians 3:12, 1 Thessalonians 1:4), strengthened with all might according to his glorious power (Colossians 1:11).

The Mind of Christ-Perceiving the Kingdom

Who are we to think that our experiences dictate what is possible or even probable in the kingdom of God?

As humans we love to found our thinking on a logical basis and simply incorporate information into that way of thinking in order to yield results that can be easily computed. What I mean by that is that if our experience is little and our perception of what is possible comes from our logical way of experiential thinking, then we will miss sharing a piece of “the mind of Christ” which we have been given. The mind of Christ is not a system which takes in worldly information to yield a better worldly result-it transforms the perceptions of carnal reality into the realms of heavenly thinking. It goes above and beyond the capacity of the human mind to catch a glimpse of heaven on earth.

What would it be like to be so heavenly minded that walls of limitation start to vanish and the kingdom of God gains transparency to become fully visible on earth? God has not given us his mind for a better day, but to function as a medium through which our identity is transformed into the likeness of Christ’s with which we can usher in a Kingdom. 

We are under the rule of a King who gives the greatest gifts to his builders. We stand in a position of exaltation from God to rise above not just the enemy, but above every negative aspect of “life” the world has to offer. What a job we have! We are basically paid in unending grace and commissioned to bring the greatest conceivable good (God) to all of humanity that has yet to experience him.

The Lord does not require an impressive resume for acceptance into relationship-he simply requires faith and submission to follow him. Who wouldn’t want to give up a perversion of good (fallen humanity) for the greatest good?

If you continually believe you are bound to the faults of the fallen mind, you will always live less than you were created for, but if you let heaven dictate even your physical reality, you will see breakthrough like never before. The God of the universe has not set up his creation for failure, but has given every faucet of himself for the ability of humanity to walk like just as Jesus walked.

When we accept an identity less than one which reflects the fullness of Jesus, we are agreeing with a lie that says that the Holy Spirit is incapable of overcoming our initial fallen nature which derives from hell. As Todd White puts it “to say you’re only human is to say you’re only demonic”. He describes one speaking of falling short who claims limitation by human nature. The humanness we often associate with as our own, is nothing more than the influence of Satan trying to recreate his image in God’s creation. Let us stop dictating human capability and look at the perfect human-Jesus Christ. That ought be the standard for our living, as we too are empowered by the same Spirit. We fell from a real human nature that bore the image of God, but in Christ have been redeemed to that nature, to partner with God and exercise his thoughts into our present reality.

When we can begin to identify as “holy, blameless, and above reproach”(Colossians 1:22)  we will begin to see what our Father sees.

Know the mind you have been given. If you are reading this and you have yet to surrender the perversion of good you walk in, for the greatest good that God is, I encourage you to step into this calling of a newness of life. Jesus made the great exchange to take sin and give righteousness to those who might believe. We were created for Him. Apart from him is a life which lacks love, purpose, and direction. With him is a relationship above all else.

I am not setting a new standard for Christians to attain, but rather describing the mind Christians have already been given. Salvation isn’t just a ticket to heaven but an invitation into the mind and heart of Christ. Let us humbly take what we have been given and be faithful in building up the church and the kingdom of God.

What we’re Missing as Christians

What if I told you that we’ve missed or skewed an important part of the Gospel…Our Identity.

We read the Bible and we understand God’s word so far as it applies to our lives. We take verses and apply them as principles to help us in tough times. Why is it that we turn to fear, shame, and guilt when we walk through the trials of the world instead of rejoicing in the Lord and becoming the Love he calls us to?

Maybe we haven’t completely understood the Redemption in Jesus Christ. If we were to be called redeemed that would mean we once had an original value which was lost wouldn’t it? We were made in God’s image for relationship with him. We were NOT created for sin, but to look and be like our Father. When Adam sinned we took on sin identity and our original value was lost and masked by sin. We became all about ourselves and the root of our sin became inward-seeking satisfaction that cried out “I don’t need God”. A glorious relationship with the God of Love had no longer been perfected because we chose to turn away and believe the lies of the Thief.

And then…

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

“For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Hebrews 10:14

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” Romans 6:6

“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” Romans 6:18

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” Ephesians 4:22-24

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Why is it that we see sin as who we are if we claim to be Christians? Why is it that we wake up tomorrow expecting to sin instead of waking up knowing who God says we are?

Jesus didn’t just die to get me into heaven he died to make me a Son and set me free and…”If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed” John 8:36

We have to see the love of God to become who he says we are. Faith involves a relationship of seeking him in love to have fellowship with him. The world isn’t a place we endure until Jesus comes again; it’s a place we manifest the Love of God so that we can see that we’re Sons and Daughters and walk out into the world looking like our Father, bringing his light wherever we go.

We’re so quick to call out “heretic” or “false prophet” when someone speaks about being free. It’s all over the Bible. We must not deny the finished work of the cross. What if we stopped reminding each other daily about our “Sin Nature” and using it as an excuse that cries out humble and start living out the truth in God’s Word which the Holy Spirit empowers us to walk out. We’ve been made new. Jesus comes to give abundant life and the time to live is now.



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