One of the things that we learn very early in Christian life is that we can’t just do anything we like. There are disciplines to the faith, and there are sacrifices that we need to make in the present that are required for our long-term benefit. In other words, we most definitely have to deny ourselves some things that may bring us temporary pleasure. Perhaps we indulged them before we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and maybe we’re still dabbling a bit here and there, but the temporary pleasure that these things bring will not compare to the long-term benefit we will receive if we push them away. The pay-off of the sacrifice will prove to be a blessing that will carry us from one level to the next.
Ephesians 4:20-24(ESV) tells us, “20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” This passage makes it clear that we must put off some things, and do without them, so that we can put on and gain something better. As we pursue the promise of marriage with a Godly man that will love us as Jesus Christ loves the church, we must understand that capacity must be built within us. We have to expand spiritually, and Ephesians 4:20-24 is how expansion is initiated, by putting off the less useful to make room for the more useful.
To expand spiritually, something worldly must die. This makes perfect sense. It’s one of the reasons that the sacrifice of Christ is so meaningful. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) tells us, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus Christ, who never sinned, actually became sin, so that we could be redeemed. So we understand that in order for us to gain a relationship with God, a death had to occur; and not just any death, but that of His only begotten Son. A sacrifice of pure blood had to be paid, so that we could have the righteousness of Christ and thereby have a relationship with Heavenly Father. Something tremendously precious was made a curse, and then sacrificed, so that we could grow, expand, and increase continually in Christ. This pattern of putting off and putting on was initiated by the Master.
This is so monumentally important to understand because a lot of Christians are struggling with a kid-in-a-candy-store mentality. They forget the words of Jesus Christ in Luke 12:48 when he declared that for the person who receives much, much will be required. Let’s be very clear, when it comes to the promises of God, He doesn’t promise anything and everything. This is one of the reasons God tells us to stay in His Word, so that we will know the conditions on which His promises rest.
God loves us so much, and He wants us to be fulfilled and have our desires met more than we do, but His promises rest on the foundation of our faith in Him. If we lack the faith to deny ourselves temporary pleasures for our long-term spiritual gain, then we certainly don’t have the faith to sustain a lifelong relationship. This is not meant to place anyone in self-condemnation, because self-condemnation paralyzes us, and God doesn’t want this. The right knowledge is power. God wants us to go from having no knowledge to having right knowledge, so that we are no longer ignorant in the things that pertain to His Kingdom. When we know better, we have the capacity to do better.
Psalm 37:4-5(ESV) says, “4Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Our delight must be in the Lord, not in the temporary pleasures that cause us to displease Him. If our believing is not strong enough to press into God this way, He’s not going to make the presentation of a spouse until we have strengthened ourselves in His Word, so that our faith is full steam ahead. This is why our prayers as singles should be to grow in faith so that we are spiritually prepared for marriage. We should be asking God to reveal the areas where our believing is weak, and help us to be strong in those areas. If we will do this, when we finally do marry, we will be able to stand back to back with our spouses and guard the union of our marriages against the weapons of the enemy. ■
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
“The Pay-Off of Sacrifice”, written by FACM, Finding A Christian Man.Com ©2018. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!