The Apostle Paul instructs us that Jesus so loves His church that He gave his very life for her in order that He might sanctify and cleanse her. “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (Eph. 5:25-26). The ultimate purpose for Him doing this was that He might one day “present to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:27). It has always been the plan of the Lord to possess a called out people that would be His for eternity.
Often in the scriptures the relationship between God and his church is likened to that of a husband and wife. “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:31-32). On that glorious day when the Lord Jesus returns, the true church of God will be joined to him as a bride is to her groom on the wedding day. Revelation 19:7 validates this: “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”
As believers our brief stay here on earth is compared to the ancient oriental practice of betrothal. The custom of betrothal as practiced in Bible days by the Jews involved much more than our present day Western custom of engage-ment. It normally lasted a year and was culminated with the wedding of the bride and groom. So serious was it that it could only be severed through divorce. And if one partner was found guilty of infidelity he or she was liable of the death penalty (See Deuteronomy 22:23 -24).
Paul grieved over the Corinthian Church . Evidently they had been seduced away from their betrothed husband Christ. “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2, 3). The man of God was all too aware that the chief ambition of the devil was to entice believers away from a pure single-hearted devotion to Christ. This was his method in the Garden of Eden and is still his method to this day.
Paul calls the manner the devil uses to affect his cause “craftiness.” In the Greek it is an interesting word. It literally means “to stir to a place elsewhere.” Satan’s plan is to distract the focus of our love and affections away from a single-hearted devotion to Christ to things of lesser or no importance.
During the days of Prophet, the devil achieved his goal among Judah. The vast majority of God’s people in Jerusalem were enticed away from the Lord unto the worship of idols. For this reason Isaiah cries out, “How the faithful city has become a harlot” (Isaiah 1:21).
In the New Testament, Paul declared that the last days would be marked by an apostasy among the people of the Lord caused by demonic enticement. “Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits” (1 Timothy 4:1). The Bible is emphatic that as Christians we have been called to serve God with undivided affection and unadulterated devotion. To do otherwise constitutes spiritual adultery. Jesus stated, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).
Beloved, the Bible commands believers to “be holy” (1 Peter 1:13). The Biblical Greek word for holy is hagios. Breaking down the word etymologically, it means “not of the soil or earth.”
The New Testament clearly teaches that our passion in life is to be directed after the heavenly and spiritual, not the earthly and temporal. We are to be a people who are “not of the earth.” Consider the following:
“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: who set their mind on earthly things .” (Philippians 3:18-19).
And, also, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).
Imagine a bride that informs her husband that she married him strictly for his wealth! How would that man feel? Surely he would feel taken advantage of. Yet this is the way we treat the Lord! Often we serve Him for what He can give us in terms of earthly benefits, rather than spiritual riches. Yet, the irony of the matter is that if we would give the Lord the preeminence in our lives -seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness -then all of our temporal needs would be met as well! “and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern” (Mt. 6:33 NLT).
Let’s be a people with eyes only for Jesus!