I would like for you to take the word of God and open it, if you would, to I Corinthians 7. The title of the message is Our Commitment to the Sancitifcation of our Homes and I suspect it will require a bit of an explanation.
By way of introduction, allow me to remind you that this is the tenth message in a series of 18 sermons about Meaningful Membership. We began with some definitions of what church membership is, what makes it important, and what elders, pastors, and deacons are.
Now we are investigating our commitments as believers. Our first commitment is to the glory of God and then we have a commitment to the word of God. Now, we are going to consider our commitment as Christian people who have a testimony to uphold in our homes and our communities.
Think of your spheres of influence as concentric circles. You are who you are alone in the innermost circle. Those closest to you in your home are the next circle out. Your neighbors or coworkers are in the next circle out, etc, etc, etc...
I am of the persuasion that our far-reaching testimony or our walk toward those who are without is not nearly as important as our walk toward those who see us every day. Our testimony before those who are without is important, but if my neighbors believe I'm a great guy when I'm really a bum, what good is that?
I must be true in my Christian character in the privacy of my own home and it will naturally eke its way out into the open. When we first moved into the home we live in now, my wife wanted to try mowing the grass with a manual, push-reel mower. Our neighbor saw her out doing that and told me about a year later, "That guy is a real jerk, making his wife wear skirts and mow the grass with a manual push mower."
Suppose I were an unChristian man in private, my neighbor's assumptions would have been right and they would have remained unto this day. But since he was wrong (I can be a jerk in some ways, but I long to be a true Christian at home), that eventually showed itself in public.
In this way, if you are an honest and sincere Christian - alone in your prayer closet before God, it will influence your home. If you strive to have a Christian home, it will influence larger circles as God allows. But, godliness is like charity - it must begin at home. I am responsible to clean my gutters, fix my leaky pipes, and shovel my own sidewalk before I can help anyone else. And, just so, I must be sure that me and my house serve the Lord in order to have a healthy church.
Let's read our text.
1 Corinthians 7:10-14
And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
This is God's word. Let's bow for prayer.
There is a lot of controversy in certain circles today about the legitimacy of "Christian" anything. A lot of the impulse comes from the fact that some people are talking about having a "Christian Nation." The argument is, "Christians are people, not things. God can take a person and make them a Christian, but he does not turn things into Christians."
While I understand what that argument means, it falls flat on my ear because none of those same people ever complained when we had Christian colleges that sold Christian books by Christian authors in Christian bookstores to Christian students who read them in their Christian dormitories. So I don't find their arguments very compelling when they seem to pick and choose.
The only reason I bring that up is because I am about to talk about Christian families and Christian homes and I want it to be very clear that I believe a home can be distinctly set apart as a place that is wholly given to Christ.
In other words, we can claim our homes as territory for Jesus and say with Joshua,
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Winston Churchill is credited with saying, "We shape our homes and then our homes shape us." And the job falls to the head of household and every adult member of the home to shape our households and even the house itself in such a way that it lends itself to Christian living. I don't want to give too much detail, but you can set up a home in such a way where it glorifies certain kinds of sinful living or gives many dark corners for people to be alone with their thoughts or computer screens, etc...
Our text makes the point that there is an element of sanctification that occurs on a home by the presence of just one redeemed soul. There may be two people living together who are unequally yoked. The apostle Paul says, "Stay with your lost spouse as much as you can. Give it your all. The home is sanctified by your presence in it."
In other words, by the presence of a saved person, there is an influence for God and for the gospel. There is hope that the little ones will hear the truth of the gospel and come to faith. There is a chance that they will come to have peace with God and experience the joy and life of the Holy Ghost by faith in Jesus Christ. Those opportunities disappear when the believer leaves.
But it is more than that. Unbelievers have, at every moment, the judgment of God hanging over their heads. In an instant, God could call their number and send them to hellfire for eternity. And I want to be clear, he is absolutely justified in doing that. But God postpones his judgment whenever and wherever his people are.
God's people are the salt of the earth. He will not destroy the cities of the plain until Lot and his household are removed. Lot was just, his wife and children were not, but God delivered them all. Why would he do that? Because the unbelieving members of the household are sanctified by the believing member.
Let's look at some Scriptures together: We will begin with Genesis 39:5 and see how God blessed all the household of Potiphar the Egyptian because there was a believer in that household.
And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the Lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.
Was Potiphar a believer? What about his wife? For all we know, there was one Christian there and God put his blessing on the home because one of his own was there.
Find Ezekiel 44:30 and as you turn there, I will mention a few things from the New Testament. When Jesus sent his seventy disciples throughout Israel, he taught them to stay with those who received their teaching and he said,
And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.
When Paul and Silas preached the gospel all night to the jailor, he wasn't ready to receive Jesus until he saw they were genuine Christians and they said,
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
When Cornelius, the Italian came to see Peter, it was because the angel had said Peter was a guy...
Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.
God tends to work in families and he calls every man and woman to be faithful. But he promises his blessings on those families who will be faithful to him.
And the first of all the firstfruits of all things, and every oblation of all, of every sort of your oblations, shall be the priest's: ye shall also give unto the priest the first of your dough, that he may cause the blessing to rest in thine house.
We ought to dedicate our places of residence to God and to his use. In some places, people will still call for the pastors or elders to come and pray the Lord's blessing on their homes. But every man, woman, and child who knows Jesus has access to God to pray for their homes and families.
Find Job 1 with me. There is a spiritual dimension to this as well. Job's wife didn't know the kind of protection she was receiving from her husband's faithfulness and we would not have known it either except for what we read in Job 1:10.
Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
Do you think his children knew the blessings that were on them because they had a father who communed with the living God? Do you think Job was even fully aware? He rose up early in the morning and prayed and brought sacrifices for his home and the home was sanctified BECAUSE of the faithful worship of Job.
You will never know on this side of eternity the kind of spiritual protection that your faithfulness brings to your wife, your husband, your children, your elderly parents, (Hear me!) your whole household!
You see, it was not just the tabernacle and the temple, or the church that is set aside to the Lord. But in every place, those who call upon him are heard of him.
The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
And their households are sanctified by their faith and the goodness of God! This is why Solomon said,
Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established:
And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
And what prompted David to say,
Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
So, how does God build a house? Solomon said we need wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. Let me give you a few pointers that have helped Jamie and I as we navigate the complexities of 21st-century living while trying (first and foremost) to be faithful to Jesus.
1. Make Your Home a Place of Grace
By this, we mean the home should be a place where mistakes can be made, but they will be corrected and the well of forgiveness will never run dry. All three of these elements must be in place!
In some homes, everything is so tight and the girls are daddy's little princesses and the boys are helicoptered by mom and they are never out of sight of mom or dad and we watch them hit 20 or 21 years old and they just self-destruct and seek out someone who will not only allow them to act out, but help them run into destructive behaviors.
In other homes, the children are allowed to act out, but there is no form of consistent discipline. In our home, we have followed the biblical pattern of training and discipline. Our children know the boundaries and they know the penalty for crossing the line. If the children run amok without discipline, it is a sign of undisciplined parents. There must be correction or there is no grace. Grace corrects!
And there also must be a very deep well of forgiveness. Do not get aggravated or frustrated with your spouses, children, or other family members. The prodigal son came home because he knew his father was full of forgiveness. There was no question that his sin was wrong, but there was also no question about whether or not it would be forgiven.
Someone once said we should be so ready to forgive that our children don't say, "I've messed up. I need to hide it from my parents." But to say, "I've messed up. I need to get close to my parents."
So, when a home is a place of grace, it is a place where mistakes can be made, but they will be corrected and the well of forgiveness never runs dry!
2. Limit Time Wasting Distractions
I don't know if this was always an issue, but it certainly is an issue in our day. By time-wasting distractions, I mean the television, the video games, the friends, the constant reading of books that do not profit, sports... and MANY other things. These are the things that pull us away from real life and whether they are good or bad doesn't even enter into it. They pull us away from real life. They satiate our desire for real life with their promises and make us dull around the things that really matter.
The saved people in the house need to keep their thumb on the pulse of their own schedules and make sure they are setting side aside time weekly for a few majorly important things:
Times of together work and together rest
Sabbath Day/Lord's Day worship
Midweek Bible Study
And some of the daily things are:
All of these things are important. The problem with time-wasters is that they will suck you away for 20-25 minutes at a time. Imagine you have four of those in a day, you're looking at two hours lost. But that's not how it works. We can often wind up losing 4-8 hours in a day to things that have no real, lasting profit. A modern-day novelist wrote, "Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you're keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls - family, health, friends, integrity - are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered." Let's take his point for what it is. Ask yourself if the stuff you read, watch, and play on your phone are glass or rubber balls. Ask yourself if the news, sports, and entertainment we ingest on the regular is a glass or rubber ball. Then think of your home as a glass ball and realize that it needs you to guard it carefully! 3. Practice Daily Worship
Every Christian should make their house a house of worship. You don't need a small church size like we have. It can be just one person. But if the house has two people in it, both should be at daily worship. If it has three people in it, you should have three people at daily worship.
And it doesn't have to be complicated. Here are the three things you should do at your family's daily worship session: Sing, Read, and Pray. And the order doesn't even matter. Here's what does matter. You should sing, read, and pray out loud.
You may not like that, but it's the way it ought to be. Lift your voice when you pray. Raise your voice when you sing. Open your mouth wide when you let God fill it with his word. Do you feel embarrassed? That is exactly why you should do it! Those around you need to hear you singing and praying and reading the word of God.
But you say, "I live alone. There is no one around to hear me praying, singing, or reading." To that, I would say, "It's all the more reason to sing aloud because only God can hear you. Don't you want to sing to him? That's the best time - when you're alone."