Note: this is much longer than the usual blog post. Also, keep in mind it was originally written as a response to a non-Christian friend. Finally, it's being published quite a bit later than the post it's responding to, but I still think it's worth putting out there.
Recently I’ve been reading the book of Hebrews. It’s an immense and encouraging blessing.
Hebrews is written to people who are feeling discouraged in their newfound faith, and are tempted to leave Jesus and return to Judaism in order to avoid persecution. The writer of Hebrews encourages them to persevere, have faith, and not give up, because Jesus and this salvation they have received are so much better than the law and the old priestly system.
This isn’t the space for a detailed commentary on Hebrews. But one verse in particular really struck me:
Recently I’ve been wrestling over how to know God’s will in major life decisions, like where to live, whom to marry, and what job to take.
There’s a lot of advice out there, ranging from people saying that you need to hear a direct word from God, to others saying that you can’t expect direct guidance, but have to make a decision based on wisdom and the information you have.
It’s confusing. To find personal clarity, I’ve gone straight to the source, God’s word itself.
A couple of passages have spoken to me:
Today I was really struck by a passage in my Bible reading, Jeremiah 3:21-4:4 (I encourage you to read the whole thing in context). I believe it is a great picture of true repentance. I’m going to outline the characteristics of repentance that it shows, but first I would say:
There will always be conflicts and problems in relationships. Even the best of relationships experience them. Why? Two people in a relationship are always two sinners. We are by nature sinful and self-centred and want our own way. We are blind to certain things about ourselves, our faults that can damage the other person and the relationship. We all need to grow, change, and make use of God’s word and his grace to transform us into the likeness of Jesus, so we can love and serve others well.
I’ve been really struck recently by the Bible’s teaching on covetousness. This is a very personal reflection for me, something I’ve been convicted of and know I need to change.
I was particularly impacted by the following passage:
Our culture tells us a lot of lies about sex before marriage. We don’t realize they’re lies. But that’s what they are. Plain old, flat-out, bald-faced lies.
We know they’re lies because they contradict God’s word. But if that’s not enough, when we give in to them, we discover the painful truth for ourselves. Far better to simply trust God in the first place and spare ourselves the pain and heartbreak.
I recently had a pretty powerful revelation while reading 1 Corinthians 7. In this chapter, Paul discusses marriage, and in the broader context of that topic, he says this:
I did not understand before why premarital sex was such a big deal. I knew it was a sin, and I knew God forbid it. But I didn’t understand the very real and harmful effects it has on a relationship.
Probably the biggest harmful effect is destroying trust. I’m going to try to break down why this happens.
As Christians, we know God’s command to abstain from sex before marriage. We hopefully plan to abide by it. But often we find ourselves in relationships where the other person is pressuring us into sex, or maybe we are that person.
In every dating relationship, you’re asking yourself, how do I know if this is “the one”? How do I know if I should stay with this person and marry them, or break up?
This isn’t a list of specific behaviours or indications; it’s more of a set of general diagnostic questions you can ask yourself about the health of the relationship.
1. What is my emotional experience in this relationship?