May the God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly;… I Thess. 5:23
Once we believe by the power of the Spirit in the Lord Jesus Christ, then it is that His Spirit works with our spirit. This work of preserving us in faith and of working within us to will and to work for His good pleasure is called sanctification. The word ‘sanctify’ basically means ‘to set apart.’ The word ‘holy’ comes from the word sanctification. To be set apart means to be preserved as Christ’s in this wicked world; to be in the world, but not of the world.
There is no question that we should do good works. We are not saved by good works. Eph. 2:8-9 We are saved to then walk as Christ walked, to do as He did. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:10 In the love of Christ we seek to follow His example, which is he Christian Way.
Our sinful flesh does not want to do His will. It always struggles to have us listen to the devil and this wicked world. Read Romans seven to see this struggle within us, or jut simply look into your own life. We need to read and study the Word of God for the Gospel strength to follow Christ. And we need to read and study the Word to know what is pleasing to God and so how we should walk in good works.
Let us consider one example in this pamphlet. Polygamy – Is it sin or just another form of marriage?
Marriage is defined by Scripture.
In any consideration of whether polygamy is sin or not the Word of God must be consulted. It is Scripture that records the institution of marriage when God gave Eve to Adam. It is Scripture that defines what marriage aught to be. And it is Scripture that states what sin is in violation of marriage. It is the Lord of the universe who tells us what is right and wrong through His clear Word. Let us listen to Him because He knows what is good for us and in love tells us in His Word what is His will for our lives.
Marriage is not just a human custom arrived at by men. It is an institution ordained by God. It is God who in Eden established marriage as he relationship between man and woman when He gave Eve to Adam. On the sixth day of creation God created Eve from Adam’s rib. He made her for man to be his helper. God said in establishing marriage, “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Gen. 2:24 With this statement God declares that one man and one woman united together constitute marriage. For a man to cleave to his wife is the most personal and intimate union of two people. This is underlined by God then saying that “they become one flesh.” It is a stretching of Scripture to say that another woman can fit into this relationship of one man and one woman. We shall see that this is reinforced by other passages also.
Our Lord quotes the Genesis passage which He spoke in Eden. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one…So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” Mt. 19:5-6 Our Lord defines the relation as the two becoming one. To bring a third into the personal, intimate relationship destroys the relationship of one and one united to become one. It can be destroyed by means of a mistress, a harlot or other ‘wives.’
If there is yet doubt in one’s mind that marriage is one plus one equals one, then consult further in Scripture. In I Corinthians chapter seven Paul addresses marital problems and at the out set states what marriage is. “But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does.” I Cor. 7:2-4 Here Paul states “his own” and “her own”. These references eliminate any sharing of the wife or the husband with others. And that each rules over the other’s body is conclusive that there can be no sharing. It is a twisting of Scripture to think that two or more women can rule over the same man’s body. How can the wives of own man each have her own husband? Scripture is clear. The confusion is in the man who wants what he wants for his own selfish reasons.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians on this same subject of marriage. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from immorality; that each one of you know how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the heathen who do not know God.” I Thess. 4:3-5 “A wife for himself in holiness and honor” clearly states how the husband should be. These and other passages in the New Testament are addressed to us living in these last days until the Lord comes again. If we continue in His Word, then we are His disciples and we shall know the truth and he truth shall make us free. If on the other hand, we choose to twist Scripture, it will be to our own destruction. Jn. 8:31-32, II Pet. 3:16
To state it plainly as the Bible does: polygamy is sin. God’s will is that one man has one woman as wife.
We reject Old Testament polygamy references in historical sections to condone polygamy today.
It has been said by some that because David or Solomon practices polygamy, it may be allowed today in the church. First of all let us remember as we have seen that God has clearly defined marriage for us in the passages in the New Testament. Any of the cases of polygamy in the Old Testament record are contained in the historical narrative sections of the Bible. There are several events and actions recorded in the history sections which we would not condone, though God had them recorded. He does not tell us to go and do likewise. The historical narrative sections are not be used universally as examples for us on how to do right. Often they are examples of how evil is done. Merely because God does not interrupt the narrative and say ‘this is evil,’ we should not hesitate to use the clear passages of Scripture which tell us how to live to then interpret the historical sections.
For instance, may we lie and kill because Jael drove a tent peg through the temple of unsuspecting Sisera, as he slept on the floor of her tent? Judges 4:17-22 Of course not. The fifth commandment tells us “Thou shalt not kill.” Passages of the Bible also tell us not to lie and deceive. “Do not lie to one another…” Col. 3:9
Or should we make an oath in an uncertain thing and carry it out as Japheth did in executing his daughter? Judges 11f:30-40 Of course not. Jesus tells us to let our yes be yes and our no be no.
Or think about Abraham lying about his wife Sarah. He lied to the King of Egypt and the King of Gerar saying that Sarah was his sister. Gen. 12 and 40. Does that mean that we can lie? God does not always interrupt the narrative and say that something is wrong. But He does say it clearly elsewhere in the Word.
In Genesis 38 Judah acknowledges that Tamar is more righteous than him, not because he committed adultery with her but because, as he says, “inasmuch as I did not give her to my son Shelah.” Gen.38:26 Who of us would not say though that Judah sinned in going in to her thinking that she was a harlot?
In considering all these analogous situations, we cannot say because David or Solomon committed polygamy, it may be condoned or allowed today. It is sin, and clearly it is stated so through the passages of the Word that define marriage. If we would learn from the historical narrative sections where polygamy is mentioned, learn what troubles were brought on people because of polygamy. Learn how the first recorded polygamist was evil Lamech who boasted to his wives how evil he was. Gen. 5:23-24
What should be done today in the cases of polygamy?
If a man who is a polygamist wishes to join one of our congregations, he must uphold marriage as it is defined in the Bible. To be a member of our church an individual must uphold the truth of the Word and seek to have his life conform to the Word and will of God.
It will not be simple to extricated oneself from the devilish web of polygamy. But this must be the goal. In most cases we must admit that the first wife is the legitimate claimant to the title ‘wife.’ Merely because he has children by other women does not mean that he may continue in a relationship which the Bible does not allow as marriage. He should wish to carry out a responsibility to other women which he has taken as wives. How exactly he, the polygamist, may do this should be worked out between him and the pastor of the congregation to which he wishes to belong. But the intimacy of the marriage bed must cease with all but one woman. Perhaps he will seek to find a good Christian husband for his other wife. Or perhaps for a time he will set up a separate house for the other wife and children. But in any case before he could be admitted into the fellowship, he must uphold marriage in his home as God instituted it. And his actions to those previously regarded as his wives and his children by those women must be done in love. This calls for a good level of sanctification. The Word is vital if he is to do God’s will. He should be encouraged to come and hear the Word. The pastor should visit him regularly to assist him with pertinent passages.
If within the congregation a man takes to himself other wives, he must be dealt with according to what our Lord says in Matthew 18.This must be carried out in obedience to God’s Word to uphold the integrity of the church and out of love for the sinner.
The Bible is clear. Marriage is simply defined as one man and one woman. They are to share the most intimate relationship, which cannot legitimately be shared with anyone else. Scripture never says to do as David or Solomon did in taking other women as wives. Rather it says to have your own husband and your own wife. To become a part of a Christian congregation means to uphold the truth of the Word and to seek to have one’s life conform to the Word.
May God preserve us from the venomous attacks from both within and without. May He sanctify us in His truth.