God wants to use marriage to change you

Just wrapped up premarital counseling with a couple getting married this fall. I’ve had the privilege of sitting with hundreds of couples over the years as they prepare for marriage.

One thing I’ve been placing more emphasis on is the need to recognize how God wants to use husbands and wives as instruments of positive change in their mate’s life. No one will have closer access to your mate than you.

I am trying to get husbands and wives to embrace this reality and to leverage closeness and access to each other for ongoing transformation into the likeness of Christ (II Corinthians 3:18).

Christlikeness is what God is producing in those who belong to Him — a restoration to the glory of the image of God from which we have fallen (Genesis 1:26-27; Romans 3:23; 8:29). Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25).

When God ordained marriage it was for completion of one individual with another. Something was missing. God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” So God said,  “I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18). “Helper” and “suitable” are not demeaning terms but beautiful descriptions pointing to the complementary way a woman brings completeness to a man.

The woman was created for the man (I Corinthians 11:9).

She filled up what was missing. None of this implies inferiority for she too is made in the image of God and shares a call to co-regency with the man (Genesis 1:28).

“Woman is the glory of man” (I Corinthians 11:7).

Her union with man fills up what is lacking. She is a “helper” or a “support to him” but this relationship and role does not imply inferiority (see: Galatians 3:28).

Marriage is made up of two unique individuals and loss of uniqueness in either could hurt the purpose of their companionship and completion.

But emphasis on oneness or male leadership should never lead to the disappearance of a woman into the dominance of the man. Nor should male passivity be permitted behind the dominance of the woman. Either approach would violate the original purpose of a complimentary completion. It’s also significant that the man is the one given primary responsibility to forge the bond with his wife (Genesis 2:24). 

Marriage is a bonding of two individual identities into one new relationship. Like the different colors of sand in a sand ceremony, each one brings individual significance, gifts and beauty to the relationship of marriage. Each one is meant to be God’s instrument of ongoing transformation in the life of the other?

Can it work?

Husbands and wives must be secure in their love for each other for this plan to work. When I am convinced that my wife genuinely desires what is best for me according to God’s will, I am secure enough to allow her to speak into my life.  

Where there is rivalry and competition for control and superiority, there are deeper spiritual issues of immaturity to be addressed. Only as we walk by the Spirit with the mind of Christ can we leverage the closeness for ongoing transformation of our lives through marriage (Galatians 5:13-26; Philippians 2:3-10).

Question for discussion: How have you seen this work in your marriage?

Audio messageWhen Two Become One

Steve Cornell

20 Questions about the right one

  1. Can you talk ?
  2. Can you play?
  3. Can you work together?
  4. Do you have mutual friends?
  5. Are you proud of each other?
  6. Are you intellectually on the same level?
  7. Do you have common interests?
  8. Do you share the same values – honesty, cleanliness, Church, roles?
  9. Do you feel comfortable with how you make decisions together?
  10. Do you help each other emotionally?
  11. Do you have absolute trust in each other?
  12. Are you more creative and energetic because of each other?
  13. Do you help each other grow closer to God?
  14. Can we accept and appreciate each other’s family?
  15. Do you have unresolved relationships in your past?
  16. Is sex under control?
  17. Have you spent enough time together?
  18. Have you fought and forgiven?
  19. Have you talked about each area of your future life?
  20. Have you had counseling?

Love is vulnerable, but the alternative…

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.”

“Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable” (C. S. Lewis).

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (I John 4:10-11).

Marriage is not about being in love or feeling love but an agreement to love. Once you understand this, the feelings will find their place — a place of deep and meaningful companionship in love.

Steve Cornell

Worship Video

Last night, I was privileged to speak at the Navigators chapter of Millersville University. About 80 university students gather in our Student Ministry Center which is walking distance to the entire campus.

It was a great evening and 22 students signed up for my Relationship 101 class (aka. Dating, Engagement, & Marriage class). Half of those who signed up were guys! 

It will be my 21st year teaching the class on how to make the marriage decision one of your best decisions.

I determined many years ago to work hard at preventative ministry in this area. We meet for 7-8 evenings starting Sunday night, October 6th (8-9:15 PM) at 58 West Frederick Street, Millersville, PA. 17551. Please prays for this class. We already have 35 signed up!

Check out the video that they played last night at Navs to prepare for worship:

The path to great relationships

It takes work for marriage to work. It’s one thing to be in love; another to love someone for life.

Marriage can be a great relationship of intimacy and companionship, but not when couples stop working at it. When married people start surviving and give up on thriving, they start the path that leads many to divorce. We must fight against complacency and taking each other for granted.  

All marriages are tested by the changes that come with life, family and aging. It’s not easy to live well in a fallen world. It takes intentional focus, commitment and discipline. It also requires a tenacious agreement to keep working at it through the ups and downs! 

Can we be honest enough to admit that sometimes the obstacle to deep and lasting love is our tendency to want everything to be easy? Remind yourself often that good relationships rarely remain good without effort and sacrifice. And it’s not always 100 % on each side. Sometimes the seasons of life require one mate to step up more than the other. 

We simply cannot build deep companionship when we refuse to work through our challenges and difficulties. Let’s not give in to a mindset of defeat by a perspective that sees obstacles and hinderances instead of opportunities and possibilities. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

I don’t say this to encourage anyone to stay in an abusive relationship or for singles to settle for a relationship that is wrongly matched. Never confuse enabling with loving (see: Forgiveness not enabling).

Marriage is not about being in love but an agreement to love. And it’s an agreement that must be renewed often. Doing this involves more than will power. Couples need a shared vision of what love looks like and how it is lived. 

The best standard for love is found in I Corinthians 13:4-8. Here we learn how love behaves in relationships. Here we find God’s prescription for great relationships.

Here is a love that protects relationships from destructive conflict and bitter rivalry. Playful rivalry is not bad, but troubled relationships almost always  involve nasty and divisive rivalry. This love opposes selfishness at every turn. 

Revisit true love

  • Love is patient: It is long-suffering. It restrains anger when provoked. Patience is more than passive waiting. It’s active restraint that rests in God.
  • Love is kind: It reaches out in good will with acts of care for others. Love patiently forebears and in kindness — actively pursues. Loving people are distinguished by their kindness.
  • Love does not envy: It does not resent the blessings of others. Envious people engage in rivalry. The envier gloats over the harm or misfortune of the one envied. She delights in evil.
  • Love does not boast: Love corrects the desire to call attention to self. A loving person is not a windbag or braggart. He does not parade himself. Love is willing to work anonymously. It needs no stage, applause or recognition.
  • Love is not proud: not puffed up; not arrogant; not full of oneself. A loving person does not think more highly of himself than sober judgment dictates (Romans 12:3).
  • Love is does not dishonor others: It is not rude. It is respectful of others.
  • Love is not self-seeking: It does not insist on its own way. It is not self-absorbed.
  • Love is not easily angered: It is not easily agitated nor easily provoked. Loving people are not hot-tempered, short-fused people.
  • Love keeps no record of wrongs: Love seeks forgiveness and reconciliation. When hurt badly, this part of love is hard to practice.
  • Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth: This rules out gossip, slander, and delight in the downfall of others.

The grand finale of love

Love always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. Using a staccato of four verbs with repeated emphasis on how love brings everything under its influence, we learn that, “there is nothing love cannot face” (NEB).

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (NLT).

  • Love is tenacious and faithful.
  • Love is brave and noble; it never fails.
  • Love is “the most excellent way” (I Corinthians 12:31).
  • “These three remain: Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13).
  • “Over all virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:14).
  • “Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other” (Romans 12:10).

God’s love was demonstrated when he loved unworthy people like you and me. For “when we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus gave us a great example of love by coming into our world and humbling himself for our eternal good.

Have the same attitude toward each other as Christ

The Creator became a creature; the King became a servant; the Shepherd became a lamb; the High Priest became the sacrifice, the sinless One was made sin for us that we might be acceptable before God in Him! (see: II Corinthians 5:17-21; Philippians 2:3-10).

See also: What if you don’t feel love?

Steve Cornell

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For….what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? (II Corinthians 6:14-15)

To be “yoked together” pictures two oxen sharing the same yoke while plowing a field. An unequal yoke is described in Scripture as the yoking of dissimilar animals (Deuteronomy 22:10). 

The command against an unequal yoke prohibits believers from entering into cooperative relationships with unbelievers that would bind them to compromise their commitment to the Lord. One reason might be found in Jesus’ warning that we cannot serve two different masters (Matt. 6:24). 

Marriage and the unequal yoke

The unequal yoke is most often applied to the marriage decision. A marriage relationship requires more unity than most realize. It’s a yoking of life at many important points and places. If those who are yoked in marriage have too many differences, they will be pulling in different directions. Their unity will be threatened.

I keep a miniature wooden yoke in my office to use as a visual for explaining the importance of an equally yoked marriage. It’s a fitting description because life together in a marriage involves many decisions that could easily lead to disagreements (especially when raising children together). 

Marriage will significantly test the oneness and unity of two people. The yoke illustration implies that believer and unbeliever will be pulling in opposite directions or working at cross purposes with each other.

But this text assumes an ability to identify the differences between believers and unbelievers. So the first question about marriage for those who seek God’s will is how to identifying a true believer. See:  Answering the first question….

Steve Cornell

Audio resource: What Should You Expect? 

Marriage is not about happiness

“Marriage is not supposed to make you happy. It is supposed to make you married” (Frank Pittman).

Marriage might be our last best chance to grow up. So many marriage problems are a direct result of immaturity.

Think about it

An immature person thinks the world turns around his desires and comforts. He doesn’t tend to think much beyond himself and is therefore unfit for the kind of responsibility that comes with marriage.

If this describes you, “Grow up! It might save your marriage!” It also might surprise you to learn that a mature approach to life is more satisfying than a selfish one. 

Immaturity can make a marriage anywhere from difficult to miserable. But two mature people can overcome many challenges and find deeply satisfying companionship.         

But one problem is that many have an immature understanding of marriage itself. These are often people who want more from marriage than it can deliver. Some naively think that getting married will lead to a life of uninterrupted happiness. 

Marriage should be a mutually encouraging relationship, but when we expect it to meet our need for personal happiness, our expectations are unrealistic. To ask another person to make you happy is asking more than most people can deliver. 

Good marriages enjoy happy times as well as times of difficulty and sadness. The difficulties can lead couples to deeper love if they work through them together.

If personal happiness is your main goal, it’s time to grow up.

Happiness is a by-product of maturity and good priorities. In a strange way, when personal happiness becomes our primary focus, it becomes more elusive. Why does it often take so long to learn this truth?

We need to change our message on this subject. Some people (even professional counselors) consider it a counseling emergency when a person or married couple is not happy. But this reaction only feeds discontentment and can ultimately lead to obsessive dissatisfaction and perhaps even depression.

Is it possible that the people in our lives are not there to revolve around our felt needs? Happiness is discovered when people decide to be responsible and to serve others more than themselves.          

To experience satisfying companionship, we must think more maturely about marriage. Pittman wisely noted that,

“Marriage is not about being in love. It is about the agreement to love one another. Love is an active, transitive verb. It is something married grown-ups do no matter how they feel. It is nice when married people are in love with one another, but if they are loving enough to one another, that magic may catch fire again.”

One of the greatest obstacles to maturity is this cultural obsession with personal happiness as a fundamental right – if not a sign of true mental health.

Don’t misunderstand. I am not suggesting we become stoic realists who are skeptical of pleasure and enjoyment. I am recommending that true and lasting pleasure come from a refusal to treat felt needs as the highest priorities of life.

Life can be hard and discouraging. To be satisfied in life and marriage, we must be mature. Selfishness is consistently listed as a primary reason marriage dissolves. It is a sure sign of immaturity.

But self-giving love enriches marriage. Jesus Christ set the supreme example of this love and the New Testament challenges us to follow his example.

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (Phil. 2:3-5).  

A good marriage can’t be experienced without a grown-up perspective from both husband and wife. Selfish and childish tendencies must be acknowledged and conquered.

When couples understand that marriage is not about being in love but an agreement to love; not about feeling loved but valuing each other, then they will more likely find the path to deep and meaningful companionship. And (as an added benefit), they usually experience the feelings of love that come with the choice to love.

Steve Cornell

See: A closer look at marriage and To love and to cherish

5 Agreements for Good Marriages

  1. We will value and respect each other.
  2. We are teammates, not  opponents.
  3. We will acknowledge  selfishness.
  4. We will not neglect our physical relationship.
  5. We will stay close to God.
1. We are teammates not opponents:

Marriage is based on togetherness. We must not allow dividing forces to separate us. When you have children, there are three social relationships in your home:

Parent/child, sibling/sibling, and husband/wife. The only permanent relationship in your home is the third one—your marriage. We must prioritize this relationship in a way that encourages our children to value and respect it. Remember: children build much of their identity and security on the strength of their parents’ marriage.

Generally, we live in a society that promotes individualism. Yet in marriage we must look beyond the “me” to the “us.” We must diligently protect ourselves from the dividing forces in our culture.

Marriage and family life go through a variety of phases (e.g. parenting small children, young adolescents, teens, adult children). The potential changes that come with age, income levels, and family circumstances require that we be flexible and make necessary adjustments to protect marital unity. We are on the same team—work together!

  • What have you allowed to become a dividing force in your marriage?
  • Are you too busy or too pre-occupied with hobbies or entertainment?
  • Have you allowed bad attitudes or uncontrolled anger to drive a wedge between yourself and your mate?
  • Are you too proud, or too selfish to be a good teammate?
  • Are you too much of a critic and fault finder?
  • Does your tendency to be argumentative hurt team unity in your marriage?
  • What changes could you make to bring team unity to your marriage?


  • “Two are better off than one, because they can work more effectively. If one of them falls down, the other can help him up…Two people can resist an attack that defeats one person alone. A rope made up of three cords is hard to break” (Ecclesiastes 4:9,12).
  • “Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be proud,… Do not be conceited (Romans 12:16).
  • “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18).
  • “Do everything without complaining or arguing” (Philippians 2:14).
  • “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel (Proverbs 20:3).
2. We will value and respect each other

In a pre-marital meeting with the pastor who officiated at our wedding, he looked at me and said, “The graces you used to win her love, you should use to keep her love.” Wow! I have not always done a great job fulfilling that challenge. In courtship, I tried extra hard to treat my future wife with value and respect. Yet over time, it became easier to grow complacent and to take each other for granted. As a “typical man”, for example, I do not always listen to my wife as well as I should. I must recognize that lack of listening often communicates disrespect.

Husbands and wives must also work hard to stay in tune to each other’s needs. Encouraging words, well-timed compliments, thoughtful notes, a simple hug—these are little but meaningful ways to show that we value and respect our mates. “I appreciate how hard you work around the home.” “I realize that your job has been stressful, let me know how I can help.” “Thank you for __________.” These are ways we can communicate value.

  1. Can you identify ways that you have not treated your mate with value and respect?
  2. What specific steps do you plan to take to communicate how much you value and respect your mate?
  • “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (Ephesians 5:33)
  • “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (I Peter 3:7).
  • “The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 15:33).
3. We will acknowledge selfishness

Selfishness is enemy number one to a good marriage. A wise counselor once said, “There are two kinds of people in the world, the givers and the takers. A marriage between two givers can be a beautiful thing. Friction is the order of the day, however, for a giver and a taker. But two takers can claw each other to pieces within a period of six weeks. In short, selfishness will devastate a marriage every time.”

I encourage young couples to preface there acknowledgements of wrong with the words, “It was very selfish of me to…” or “I was only thinking about myself when…”.  Many people have allowed selfishness to destroy their marriages.


  1. Do you tend to demand that things go your way in your marriage?
  2. Do you always have to be right when you discuss matters with your mate?
  3. Are you easily threatened by or overly sensitive to criticism from your mate?
  4. Are you generous with your time and resources? Be honest and humble enough to face up to areas where you have been too selfish.
  5. How have you displayed selfishness in your marriage? Have you ever acknowledged selfishness to your mate?
  6. How could you become more intentionally other-centered toward your mate?
  • “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2:3-5).
  • “For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:16).
  • “An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends; he defies all sound judgment (Proverbs 18:1).
4. We will not neglect our physical relationship 

Sex is part of marriage. Most men would like it to be a bigger part of their marriages. Frankly, I believe that attention to the first three commitments will improve your sexual relationship. In other words, sexual problems are often indicators of other problems.  Remember: men and women approach sex differently. Men are like the microwave; women are like the crock-pot.

Because men often tend to have stronger sexual needs than their wives, women generally have to be more self-giving in this area. Both men and women would benefit from reading material that helps explain their differences. I recommend two books: What Husbands Wish Their Wives Knew About Men by Patrick M. Morley and What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women by James Dobson.  This area of the marriage relationship like all others requires open communication. Marriages with communication problems often have many other problems.

Another major threat to sexual relationships in marriage is pornography. Far too many men are addicted to pornography. Viewing pornography distorts, perverts and places unrealistic pressures on normal sexual relationships in marriages. The primary source of pornography is the Internet. If you have a problem in this area, I recommend that you either terminate your access to the Web or join an accountability group like Covenant Eyes (note: their program could also protect you from allowing pornography to become a problem). We must keep our sexual relationship healthy in our marriages. Do not allow neglect or other issues to ruin sexual intimacy.

  1. Have you given proper attention to your sexual relationship?
  2. How could you improve this area of your marriage?
  3. Have you allowed other relationship problems to negatively affect your physical intimacy?
  • “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (I Corinthians 7:3-5). See: Proverbs 5-7
5. We will stay close to God

Remember: “a rope made up of three cords is hard to break” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). The “third cord” of a meaningful and lasting marriage is God.  As husbands and wives cultivate their relationship with God individually, they will make a strong contribution to their marriages. We were made by our creator to live in a personal relationship with him. He has graciously opened the way for this to be possible (see: John 3:16,17).

We strengthen our relationship with God by listening to him as he speaks through the scriptures. This can be done by reading scripture, sitting under bible teaching and reading books that explain and apply scripture. We also cultivate our relationship with God by praying to him (i.e. offering up praise, thankfulness and requests to God), and through fellowship with other believers (i.e. being vitally connected to a local Church).

On a practical level, it helps marital unity when husbands and wives put themselves under God’s authority. On many issues, it isn’t my view that matters or my wife’s idea, but God’s opinion. A husband or wife who continually examines his or her life according to God’s standards will become a better mate.

  1. Have you become spiritual complacent?
  2. What steps do you plan to take to improve your   walk with God?
  • “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).
  • “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

Steve Cornell

He says he’s a Christian, but …

How can we know if someone is a true follower of Christ?

  • Is it right to try to discern the authenticity of another person’s faith?
  • Isn’t this a private matter between the person and God? 

I can think of a few important reasons why we should try to discern the authenticity of someones faith.

  1. Most importantly we love the person and want what is eternally best for her. 
  2. Sometimes we must examine faith because we don’t want to violate II Corinthians 6:14-15 – by being unequally yoked together with unbelievers.
  3. We especially need to know when deciding whether or not to marry another person (see: I Corinthians 7:39). 
  4. There is also a great danger of self-deception that must be taken seriously (Matthew 7:21-23).

Always be sure to search your own heart before evaluating the genuineness of faith in another. Jesus said, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). After thorough self-examination, carefully evaluate the five points below about genuine faith.

1. Verbal profession of faith does not always mean true possession of faith

We live in a fake it till you make it culture. It’s not enough to hear verbal profession when it comes to true faith. There should be substantive evidence of one’s love for God and commitment to follow Him. Remember the warning from Jesus and James:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matthew 7:21-23).

“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?” (James 2:14). “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?” (James 2:19-20).

Thought: People can come into the Christian community and learn acceptable practices and words but deceive both themselves and the community as to the genuineness of their salvation.

The most sobering illustration of this is Judas. Jesus revealed to the twelve that one of them would betray Him (John 13:21). Did the disciples all say, “We know who that is!”? No. According to John 13:22, the disciples were unsure about who Jesus intended. Judas had so cunningly hidden his true identity that none of the others immediately thought of him. A parallel gospel informs us that, “each one began to say to Him, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’” (Mt. 26:22).

2. Fruit inspection

“just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions” (Matt. 7:20). “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT).

3. Objective measures for confirming genuine believers

  1. The primary direction and characteristics of a person’s life- I John 3:9 (NIV)
  2. Works of the flesh vs. the fruit of the Spirit – Galatians 5:19-24.
  3. The wisdom from below vs. the wisdom from above – James 3:12-18.
  4. The works of darkness vs. the fruit of the Light – Ephesians 5:5-11.
  5. The description of the unrighteous – I Corinthians 6:9-11.
  6. Love for the world vs. love of the Father-  I John 2:15-17.
  7. Love for other believers – I John 3:14; 5:1.
  8. Keeping God’s commandments – I John 2:4, Ti. 1:16.

4. Five desires found in true believers – A practical summary for easy communication

  1. To please God (II Corinthians 5:9)
  2. To know God’s Word (I Peter 2:1-2)
  3. To be with God’s people (Hebrews 10:25;I Jn 5:1)
  4. To share the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20)
  5. To overcome sin (I John 3:9)

Thought: While it is clearly possible for a true believer to have serious moments of disobedience and unfruitfulness, the focus of the lists above is on the primary emphasis of one’s life (Rom. 7:19; I Jn. 2:1; II Pet. 1:5-10).

If the overall direction and characteristics of a person’s life is described by the negative side in the 8 lists above, the person does not have any firm reason to believe that he or she is saved.

If my life testifies against my profession—the apostle Paul’s words apply: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves.” (II Cor. 13:5).

5. What do these verses imply about one who truly comes to faith in Christ?

  • Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit”
  • Luke 18:13,14 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ ”I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.’”
  • I Peter 5:5 “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

A final consideration – Not hungry or thirsty enough

“I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to me will never go hungry and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35 cf. John 4:14).

From these words, we learn that belief is not merely an agreement with facts about God. It is also a matter of appetite, of longing, of hungering and thirsting and finding satisfaction and fulfillment in the one who is the bread of life itself.

Belief is not merely thinking correctly about God and Jesus.  It’s a turning to Jesus as the source of nourishment for life (tasting and seeing).  Rarely is unbelief solely or mainly a matter of changing one’s mind about facts.  It’s a turning of one’s heart away from the Creator and Redeemer. Unbelief, therefore, involves a turning of the heart away from God to search for satisfaction from something or someone else.

Remember these words

“Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). Blessed are the poor, needy, hungry and thirsty.  Augustine prayed, “Hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee…”  We add that hearts are hungry until they find satisfaction in God; Our hearts are thirsty until quenched by God.

Steve Cornell

Please take time to listen to this message: What Should you Expect?

A closer look at love

Relationships are miserable when love is absent. But is there an objective way to identify true love? 

Love defined

The fourteen qualities of love in First Corinthians thirteen offer the best available description of love known to humans. This text remains one of the most quoted Scriptures in wedding ceremonies.

Reflect deeply and often on this description of love:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV).

This is God’s prescription for great relationships. Love (as defined here) is notably anti-rivalry. It protects relationships from destructive conflict. Playful rivalry is not bad. But when a relationship deteriorates, some form of ugly and divisive rivalry is involved.

  1. Love is patient: It is long-suffering. It restrains anger when provoked. Patience is more than passive waiting. It is active restraint that rests in God.
  2. Love is kind: It reaches out in good will with acts of care and concern for others. Love not only patiently forebears, through kindness, it actively pursues. Loving people are distinguished by their kindness.
  3. Love does not envy: It does not resent the blessings of others. Envious people engage in evil rivalry. The envier gloats over the harm or misfortune of the one envied. She delights in evil.
  4. Love does not boast: Love corrects the immoderate desire to call attention to one-self. A loving person is not a windbag or braggart. He does not parade himself. Love is willing to work anonymously. It needs no limelight or stage, applause or recognition.
  5. Love is not proud: not puffed up; not arrogant; not full of oneself. A loving person does not think more highly of himself than sober judgment dictates (Romans 12:3).
  6. Love is does not dishonor others: It is not rude.It is respectful of others.
  7. Love is not self-seeking: It does not insist on its own way. It is not self-absorbed.
  8. Love is not easily angered: It is not easily agitated nor easily provoked. Loving people are not hot-tempered, short-fused people.
  9. Love keeps no record of wrongs: Love seeks forgiveness and reconciliation. Love is hard to practice when hurt badly (see: Forgiveness).
  10. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth: This rules out gossip, slander, and delight in the downfall of others.

And the grand finale: love always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. In a staccato of four verbs enriched with repeated emphasis on how love brings everything under its influence, we learn that “there is nothing love cannot face” (NEB). “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (NLT).

Love is tenacious and faithful. Love is brave and noble; it never fails.

Love is “the most excellent way” (I Corinthians 12:31). “These three remain:Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13). “Over all virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity”(Colossians 3:14).

In Scripture, husbands are commanded to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25); Older women are told to train younger women to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:4) and communities of Christians are to be distinguished by their love for one another (John 13:35). 

The personal nature and greatness of love takes on powerful significance when we realize that God is love. His love was put on display when he loved the unlovable—when “we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus offered a living example of love. In Jesus, the Creator became a creature; the King became a servant; the Shepherd became a lamb; the Sinless one was made sin for us; the High Priest became the sacrifice (see: Philippians 2:3-10).

A gift for you

I recommend regular evaluation of relationships based on the 14 qualities of love in I Corinthians 13. We have put these qualities of love (along with an eight point communication covenant) on laminated cards for easy use. If you email your mailing address to me, we will send you several copies as our gift.


Steve Cornell
Senior pastor
Millersville Bible Church
58 West Frederick street
Millersville, PA. 17551