Friday, March 15, 2019

Living by Covenant

The LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant” (Malachi 2:14).

The fact that God’s relationship with man is by covenant, as we have seen, implies that deep human relationships may also be covenantal. This is what we find expressed in Malachi 2:14, where the marriage relationship is called a covenant.

I am sometimes asked by young people why marriage is necessary. “Why can’t we just agree to be faithful to each other and live together? Why do we have to go through some ceremony and be licensed by some judge or preacher?” This question arises because people today are no longer very familiar with the nature of covenants.

Covenants establish relationships publicly and create accountability. If two people are simply living together, either partner may abandon the other without being accountable. The covenant, as we have seen, involves a promise to obey God and to be faithful, and also involves a curse: May God judge me if I break this pledge. The reason people avoid the covenant of marriage today is that they want to have irresponsible relationships, but such relationships are hazardous to human life. God has created us so that we blossom as human beings when we conform to His covenantal structures. When we live irresponsibly, we destroy ourselves.

Joining a local church is also a form of covenant-making, at least for those churches who take biblical membership seriously. We stand before the congregation and pledge in the sight of God to work for the peace and the purity of His church. The congregation pledges to assist us and to receive us as members. This kind of covenanting makes specific the covenant God made with us at baptism. It makes us accountable to leaders in a particular local church, something God requires (Hebrews 13:17). Here again, many Christians refuse to join the church, and this is a manifestation of irresponsibility and immaturity.

At the same time, all human covenants are subordinate to God’s covenant. A sad factor due to sin is that a church or a marriage may become so corrupt that the relationship has to be resolved. But even in these circumstances, biblical guidelines give direction as to why and how this should be done.

Living by covenants is God’s method of anchoring our lives and providing security against the prevailing cultural disintegration. Ask your pastor to consider teaching on the rewarding difference covenant faithfulness brings to all of life.